NEAR NEWNES, Australia (CBS News/Reuters) — Wildlife officials in Australia began a food drop for animals in wildfire-ravaged forests in New South Wales on Friday to help them survive in burnt-out land.
New South Wales authorities have airdropped over two tonnes of sweet potatoes and carrots in several national parks affected by the wildfires.
The food is meant for endangered species like the Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby – which typically survive the fires, but are left stranded with no food after fires burn off the vegetation they eat.
“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 press release.
In videos Reuters received, helicopters loaded with boxes of food were dropped through bushlands and canyons. Wallabies were seen eating them off the ground.
The Australian bush has been burning for nearly three months and the fires have killed 28 people, claimed 2,000 homes and consumed millions of acres of land and wildlife.
More than 800 million native animals have been affected or killed in the blazes in New South Wales (NSW), the worst-hit state where about 5 million hectares of land has already burned, according to Professor Chris Dickman, an ecologist with Sydney University.