Animals starving due to Australia fires munch on airdropped veggies

The Australian government flew in tons of vegetables to save the brush-tailed rock wallaby from starvation.

The New South Wales minister for energy and environment Matt Keen described this wallaby as "one happy customer."

Devastating bushfires are roaring across Australia, turning the landscape into cinders. Experts estimate that over a billion animals have died in the wide-ranging fires. Humans are rallying to help and the efforts include airdropping vegetables to starving wildlife.

Operation Rock Wallaby is an aerial project from the government of New South Wales to save endangered brush-tailed rock wallabies that survived the fires, but are left in burned lands with no food. The operation has already dropped over 2 tons of carrots and sweet potatoes to over a dozen wallaby colonies. 

"The wallabies were already under stress from the ongoing drought, making survival challenging for the wallabies without assistance," said New South Wales environment minister Matt Kean in a statement on Sunday. Kean tweeted a photo of carrots in mid-air over the weekend.

The airdrops are just the beginning. "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," said Kean.

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species considers the brush-tailed rock wallaby vulnerable, which is one step below endangered. The Australian government, however, lists the marsupial as endangered in New South Wales due to loss of habitat, fire, introduced predators and competition from feral goats and sheep.

Heart-breaking photos of wounded koalas have spread online. An image of a wallaby eating a carrot offers one small glimmer of hope in a time of tragedy. 

Learn more about the Australian bushfire crisis and how you can help.

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