Native Australian animals at risk of extinction received tons of vegetables to help them survive one of the nation’s worst wildfires.
The New South Wales government confirmed nearly 2.5 tons of carrots and sweet potatoes have been delivered to endangered brush-tailed rock-wallabies in fire affected parts of the Premier State.
The state’s Office of Environment and Heritage transported nearly 1,000 kilos (2,204 pounds) to six different colonies in the Capertee and Wolgan valleys, another 2,204 pounds to five areas within Yengo National Park, and a further 100 kilos of food and water to Kangaroo Valley.
Food has similarly been dropped to Jenolan, Oxley Wild Rivers, and Curracubundi national parks, making it the most widespread food drop the government has ever done for the species.
Initial fire assessments suggest more than 50 fires, many of which were deliberately lit, have burned several important brush-tailed rock-wallaby populations across the state.
“The wallabies were already under stress from the ongoing drought, making survival challenging for the wallabies without assistance,” NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean said in a statement.
Wallabies are two-legged marsupials that look similar to a kangaroo except much shorter, averaging about 55 centimeters (21 inches) tall and weighing about 4 kilos (9 pounds). NSW National Parks and Wildlife Services estimates there are between 15,000 and 30,000 brush-tailed rock-wallabies left in the wild.
Many of the animals survived the fires by fleeing but still are at risk of dying from a lack of available food.
“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 according to the Daily Mail.
Further food drops are expected to follow.
“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,” Kean said in a statement. “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.”
The Office of Environment and Heritage also plans to carry out intensive feral predator measures to make sure the wallabies have a better chance of recovering. This includes installing surveillance equipment and monitoring the animals.
“When we can, we are also setting up cameras to monitor the uptake of the food and the number and variety of animals there,” Kean said.