"Operation Rock Wallaby" will deliver thousands of kilograms of food to wallabies whose habitats were razed by the Australian bushfires.
As intense wildfires rage across Australia, the natural habitats of wildlife are being destroyed. Experts believe the bushfires have taken the lives of approximately one billion animals thus far - and that number is steadily climbing. However, those animals that have lived through the natural disaster suffer from habitat loss. This means they do not have adequate access to food sources. Therefore, the New South Wales government has devised "Operation Rock Wallaby," an initiative to airdrop thousands of kilograms of fresh vegetables to regions affected by the wildfires. This is expected to help the surviving wildlife sustain themselves, The Independent reports.
The operation is expected to primarily aid local brush-tailed rock wallabies, an animal quite similar to the kangaroo, one of the most severely affected animal populations. The fresh vegetables are being distributed via helicopter. A person remains inside the helicopter as it flies across the affected region, throwing handfuls of vegetables down to the ground. The effort is being spearheaded by New South Wales' National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS). Minister for energy and environment for New South Wales Matt Kean has been providing updates of the operation. In a post uploaded to Twitter, he attached a picture of a wallaby munching on a carrot, and wrote, "One happy customer." In another, he stated, "Operation Rock Wallaby - NPWS staff today dropped thousands of kilograms of food (mostly sweet potato and carrots) for our brush-tailed rock wallaby colonies across New South Wales."
Kean said in an interview, "Initial fire assessments indicate the habitat of several important Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby populations was burnt in the recent bushfires. 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. The wallabies were already under stress from the ongoing drought, making survival challenging for the wallabies without assistance." Thankfully, the New South Wales government has stepped in just in time to help provide the assistance the wallabies so desperately needed.
As per a media release by the government, an estimated 2,000 kilograms (or approximately 4,400 pounds) of sweet potatoes and carrots were airdropped to 11 different brush-tailed rock wallaby colonies. These airdrops are expected to continue across Australia as the species recovers from the intense natural disaster. In addition to this, the government has undertaken strict feral predator control in order to help foster the conservation of these animal populations. The media release read, "At this stage, we expect to continue providing supplementary food to rock wallaby populations until sufficient natural food resources and water become available again in the landscape, during post-fire recovery."
As of Sunday, there were over a hundred fires burning throughout the country. According to University of Sydney ecology professor Chris Dickman, it would not be an overestimation to note that over one billion animals were killed either directly or indirectly by the wildfires. If you would like to help the wildlife of Australia during this challenging time, you can make a donation to several organizations, including the Nature Foundation’s Wildlife Recovery Fund, WWF Australia, and Port Macquarie Koala Hospital.