A staggering one billion animals are now feared dead in Australia's brushfires, but a much smaller group of 10,000 doomed animals is now drawing headlines. On Wednesday, professional shooters in a northwestern portion of South Australia began a five-day aerial cull of up to 10,000 feral camels. CNN reports the cull was given the greenlight by Aboriginal officials in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands who say that in their pursuit of water, the animals are putting undo pressure on the area's remote Aboriginal communities and infrastructure.
CBS News reports those dead camels that are reachable will be buried or burned; the rest will be left to the elements. The country's total camel population is thought to number about 1 million—meaning the impacted population represents about 1% of the whole, notes USA Today. As for the country's overall estimated animal death toll, the updated number of one billion came Wednesday from Chris Dickman of the University of Sydney. It represents those animals thought to be lost since September, either as fire victims or creatures who perished upon losing their habitat. About 80% of the sum—which includes mammals, reptiles, and birds, reports Bloomberg—are thought to have died in the hardest-hit state of New South Wales. (Read more Australia fires stories.)