Kangaroos abandon joeys in heatwave

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The Independent Online

Australia is in the grip of a heatwave so severe that female kangaroos are abandoning their offspring.

Wildlife officers say water is so scarce that kangaroos have also been spotted licking their forearms to cool themselves with saliva. Steven Gear, of the Queensland Parks and Wildlife service, said: "Their primary instinct is to survive, so if they've got a joey [baby] in the pouch, they discard it."

Temperatures in the outback of Queensland have reached record levels. The town of Birdsville registered its hottest January day, 49C, on Monday. The minimum temperature in Cunnamulla was 34C yesterday, 12 degrees above average.

Koalas have been suffering, too. In Gunnedah, a town in New South Wales, they have been wandering into residents' backyards in search of water and some have been found in swimming pools. Residents have been hosing them down in the trees and leaving them water. A wildlife park has rescued six animals found intown with heat stress.