Perilous times for wildlife amid severe drought

The "big dry", lasting for several years in some areas, is turning vast swathes of lush green land across the continent’s eastern interior brown.
But conservationists warn that the natural environment, particularly endangered wildlife, also needs support.
While droughts are not uncommon in Australia and native species are hardier than livestock, additional factors such as human activity, introduced animals and dwindling water sources are compounding the stress on populations.
Wildlife rescuer Racheal Walker has seen a sharp increase in the number of baby kangaroos, or joeys, being taken into care in central-west New South Wales state.
The malnourished babies are abandoned by mothers who aren’t able to feed them, while others are orphaned young whose parents were struck by vehicles as they roam closer to towns in search of food and water.
Other smaller marsupials that usually prefer wooded areas are also venturing far beyond their habitat in search of sustenance.
From 2016, WIRES has recorded a 52 percent increase in the number of macropods rescued, and a whopping 81 percent jump for wombats.
"They are coming closer, which actually gives people an opportunity to see them, as long as they practice safe-driving," McLean said.
"It’s pretty amazing to see mobs of 30 emus go past you, which is what we see quite regularly and yet we still stop and take photos of it."
With no end to the drought in sight, Kingsford is hopeful governments will take measures to protect vulnerable species, such as keeping farm livestock out of national parks so that wildlife has a food source during the dry spells.

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