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Drones plant gum trees in WWF bid to boost koala numbers in Australia

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Drones are helping plant trees to boost koala numbers in areas of Australia devastated by bushfires.

The specialist devices can drop up to 40,000 gum tree seeds a day, and are being used by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to restore bushland and forest habitat.

Gum tree leaves are koalas’ main food source and the WWF hopes through its scheme it can double the numbers of the marsupials.

As many as 10,000 may have been killed by wildfires this year and last out of a total wild population of approximately 36,000.

The recent fires displaced three billion mammals, birds and reptiles, the WWF estimates.

The drones can drop up to 40,000 seeds a day (via REUTERS)

The charity says they also destroyed or damaged up to seven billion trees across 11 million hectares (37 million acres) of Australia’s south east, equal to half the area of the United Kingdom.

It is hoped planting by drone can create corridors so that wildlife can move across landscape fragmented by fire and land clearing.

The WWF’s Australia unit is seeking to raise A$300 million (£160 million) over five years to fund the initiative.

The drones will help plant gum tree seeds which are koalas’ main food source (via REUTERS) 

“The magnitude of the bushfire crisis requires us to respond at a scale that’s never been done before,” said WWF Australia CEO Dermot O’Gorman.

“One of the new ways we’re doing this is using drones that can put large amounts of seed across landscapes and … reach inaccessible areas much easier,” he said.

In June, a parliamentary inquiry found that koalas in New South Wales state could become extinct by 2050 unless immediate action is taken to protect them and their habitat.

Australia’s most recent bushfire season was one of its worst ever, killing 34 people and destroying nearly 3,000 homes, after years of drought left bushlands unusually dry.

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