Twitter | @Matt_KeanMP

Helicopters Drop Thousands Of Kilograms Of Food To Starving Australian Wildlife

Caitlyn Clancey 12 Jan 2020

The New South Wales government has recently commissioned a series of aerial food drops to help feed Australia's starving wildlife who have been stranded outside of their habitats as a result of the state's ongoing wildfire crisis, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Over the past week, the service dubbed "Operation Rock Wallaby" dropped thousands of kilograms of fresh vegetables to hungry animals below, particularly targeting wallaby populations.

Experts estimate that over one billion animals have been killed in the wildfires, either directly or indirectly.

"This heart-breaking loss includes thousands of precious koalas on the mid-north coast of NSW, along with other iconic species such as kangaroos, wallabies, gliders, potoroos, cockatoos and honeyeaters," WWF Australia CEO Dermot O’Gorman said in a statement.

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Thousands of other animals have been forced out of their natural habitats as a result of the blazes, leaving them stranded for food and water.

Reddit | damp-soot

That's where "Operation Rock Wallaby" comes in.

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Matt Kean, the New South Wales Minister for Energy and Environment, recently shared news of the food drop on Twitter.

In his tweet, he shared that most of the vegetables dropped were sweet potatoes and carrots, which were aimed at feeding the brush-tailed rock-wallaby populations across the state.

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For Wallabies, the dangers of the fire season are less obvious than they seem.

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"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 told the Herald.

He added, "The wallabies were already under stress from the ongoing drought, making survival challenging for the wallabies without assistance."

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Kean said the food drops are expected to continue until "sufficient natural food resources and water" become available again.

As he explained, the drops are part of a state-wide scheme to address post-fire wildlife recovery:

"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,"

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Although experts usually advise against people feeding animals, the bushfires pose a real need for human intervention.

However, the Animal Wildlife Shelter in Victoria did caution people from manually giving animals like koalas water from a bottle, as it could get into their lungs and kill them.

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Instead, fill a hat, helmet, or bowl with water and place it on the ground for the koala to drink from itself.

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"If you find a koala in need of help in the heat or in a fire zone, do not offer it water by tipping it from a bottle or cup into their mouths and never force a koala to drink," the shelter said in a Facebook post.

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Other government measures to protect wildlife species include implementing intensive predator control and monitoring the uptake of food.

Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) Nature Campaigner Jess Abrahams told the Herald that while "Operation Rock Wallaby" is a "sensible emergency response," the government needs to invest more heavily into long-term recovery.

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This is because climate change threatens more frequent and intense fires.

Reddit | HarryRyan

"I can't underline how urgent it is, and we need to take real action on climate change nationally and globally if we want to protect our beautiful wildlife," he said.

Click here to donate to RSPCA NWS' bushfire relief fund.

h/t: Sydney Morning Herald

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