Australia Air-Drops Food for Struggling Wildlife

'Operation Rock Wallaby' aids endangered species
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 13, 2020 6:03 AM CST
Operation Rock Wallaby Drops Food for Aussie Wildlife
Blackened trees poke through the scorched ground after a wildfire ripped through near Kangaroo Valley, Australia, Sunday, Jan. 5, 2020.   (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Australian wildlife struggling to survive in the aftermath of devastating wildfires are getting some help from above. Thousands of pounds of sweet potatoes and carrots have been dropped from helicopters by national park staff as part of Operation Rock Wallaby in New South Wales, 9News reports. The brush-tailed rock wallaby was endangered even before the wildfires and authorities say they plan to keep dropping supplies—and carry out "intensive feral predator control" —until their habitat recovers. "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," says Matt Kean, the state's environment minister.

Kean says this is the biggest-ever food drop for the species, which lives on cliffs, granite outcrops, and other rocky areas, reports the Bega District News. According to some estimates, the wildfires have killed as many as a billion animals. The Australian government announced Monday that it is spending $35 million on an emergency wildlife recovery program, reports Reuters. "This has been an ecological disaster, a disaster that is still unfolding," Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told reporters at an animal hospital where 45 koalas were being treated for burns. "We know that our native flora and fauna have been very badly damaged." (More Australia stories.)

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