A Billion Animals


  • Photographer
    Adam Oswell
  • Prize
    Honorable Mention
  • Jury Top 5 Selection

    Patricia Lanza Impact on wildfire and climate change on wildlife & environment "For what would Man be without beasts, He would die of great loneliness" (American Indian)

  • Date of Photograph
    2020
  • Technical Info
    Nikon D850 - Leica M262

The recent catastrophic bushfire events were a watershed moment for Australia, and for the world. Suddenly the impacts of climate change became something visual and tangible on an unprecedented scale, and the catastrophic outcomes of our inaction became evident. The latest study estimates that over 3 billion animals were killed. Apart from the mass extinctions from asteroid impacts and volcanic eruptions, nothing has taken out so much life so quickly and so completely. The consequences of the bushfires is unwritten.

Story

The recent catastrophic bushfire events were a watershed moment for Australia, and for the world. Suddenly the impacts of climate change became something visual and tangible on an unprecedented scale, and the catastrophic outcomes of our inaction became evident. The latest study estimates are that over 3 billion animals were killed by the fires, and the true loss could be much higher. Apart from the mass extinctions from asteroid impacts and volcanic eruptions, nothing has taken out so much life so quickly and so completely. Mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, marsupials, fish, bats and insects perished in unthinkable numbers. Most were killed directly by the instant blast of the fires, while many perished later due to starvation, lack of shelter, and predation from introduced species like real cats and foxes. The consequences of the bushfires is unwritten. Silent forests, devoid of life, are now all that is left of many of Australia’s last great wild places. Lacking any real meaningful government support, search and rescue teams picked up the few survivors but in many areas there remains none - the fires so complete in their incineration of every living thing except for the native plants that have evolved to withstand their natural fire cycles. These images are a reckoning illustration of how biodiversity loss on an unprecedented scale and time frame has played out in Australia with catastrophic implications. The ongoing inadequate human response to the events and the graphic awareness of how much is now gone is the awful truth of this story. Omnicide is a new word and idea that capitulates our unfolding reality, a term that invokes a crime never before seen or imagined. This is Australia’s new reality, and a metaphor for the new age we now face.

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