(CNN) In a grim video posted on Twitter, a man drives into the fire-ravaged town of Batlow, in the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW). Both sides of the road are covered with ash and lingering smoke. They’re also littered with the charred remains of animals killed in wildfires that have ripped through the region.
The blazes, which have been burning across Australia for months, have razed homes and wiped out entire towns. Across Australia, nearly 18 million acres of land have been burned — much of it bushland, forests and national parks, home to the country’s beloved and unique wildlife.
Volunteers around the world are sewing pouches for Australia’s orphaned or injured kangaroos, koalas and bats. Nearly half a billion animals have been impacted by the fires in NSW alone, with millions potentially dead, according to ecologists at the University of Sydney. That figure includes birds, reptiles, and mammals, except bats. It also excludes insects and frogs — meaning the true number is likely much higher.
The total number of animals affected nationwide could be as high as a billion, according to Christopher Dickman, the University of Sydney ecologist who led the report.