Animals that escaped bushfires 'will die'

Sonia Kohlbacher

WHAT IS THE BUSHFIRES' TOLL ON PLANTS AND ANIMALS?

* Unclear at this stage, but University of Sydney Professor Chris Dickman has estimated more than one billion animals have been killed.

*That only takes in birds, reptiles and mammals, excluding bats, frogs, insects and other invertebrates.

* Mapping by experts, due out within days, is expected to give a clearer idea of the impact.

HAVE ANY SPECIES BEEN WIPED OUT?

* That is also unclear, but scientists fear the impact has been catastrophic.

* The Australian Conservation Foundation, Birdlife Australia, Humane Society International, the Wilderness Society and WWF all harbour concerns for a range of plants and animals.

* They include koalas in the southeast, the Kangaroo Island dunnart, glossy black cockatoo, long-footed potoroo, western ground parrot, Blue Mountains water skink, regent honeyeater, eastern bristlebird, southern corroboree frog and the brush-tailed rock wallaby.

* However, that list is said to be just the tip of the iceberg.

LOTS OF ANIMALS SURVIVED THOUGH, RIGHT?

* Large birds and more mobile animals can escape the flames and smoke.

* But smaller birds and animals are either too slow or don't usually get too far.

* Most of the animals that escaped will either starve or be eaten by predators.

AND WHAT ABOUT THEIR HABITATS?

* If animals return to the areas they fled, they will struggle to find food and shelter, forcing them to move to another area while their habitat recovers, which can take tens of years or more than a hundred.

* However, they'll be competing for space with other animals.

* All of these factors will make breeding harder.

* If fires of this size, severity and length become more common, there will be less habitat for animals because it won't have time to bounce back.