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Australia drops thousands of pounds of food from the sky to feed starving wildlife amid fires

Officials airdrop veggies for animals in Australia
Officials airdrop vegetables from helicopters for animals amid Australia's fires 01:11

Officials in Australia are working hard to make sure brush-tailed rock wallabies have enough food to eat amid the destruction from massive wildfires. Thousands of pounds of carrots and sweet potatoes have been dropped from the sky across New South Wales as the National Parks and Wildlife Service scrambles to save the marsupials. 

"The provision of supplementary food is one of the key strategies we are deploying to promote the survival and recovery of endangered species like the brush-tailed rock wallaby," said New South Wales Environment Minister Matt Kean in a statement.

The brush-tailed rock wallaby is considered an endangered species in New South Wales and a "threatened" species in the neighboring state of Victoria. Most of the 15 species of rock wallaby in Australia have disappeared from their original range and are now considered threatened.

The airdrop mission, dubbed Operation Rock Wallaby, was the most widespread food drop ever done for the species, Kean said. It's an effort to save animals who lived through the fires but lost the natural food supplies they need to survive.

"The wallabies typically survive the fire itself, but are then left stranded with limited natural food as the fire takes out the vegetation around their rocky habitat," Kean said. The animals were already "under stress from the ongoing drought, making survival challenging for the wallabies without assistance."

The government agency plans to continue providing food to the marsupial population "until sufficient natural food resources and water become available again."
An estimated 1 billion animals have died since Australia's devastating wildfires started spreading in September. University of Sydney professor Chris Dickman estimated that the total is over 800 million in New South Wales alone.

How to help wildlife

A number of organizations are raising money to assist animals in Australia's fire disaster:

  • Donate to WIRES, a wildlife rescue nonprofit that is rescuing and caring for thousands of sick, injured and orphaned native animals.

  • Donate to the World Wildlife Fund Australia, which is directing its efforts towards koala conservation.

  • Donate to the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital's GoFundMe, which has rescued and treated dozens of koalas suffering from severe burns. The hospital is using donations to install automatic drinking stations in burnt areas to help wildlife searching for water and to establish a wild koala breeding program to ensure the survival of the species.

  • Donate to the RSPCA New South Wales, which is helping evacuate, rescue and treat pets and wildlife in threatened areas.

And here's information on how to help firefighters and residents affected by the fires in Australia.

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