aus drought

The drought is getting so bad even native wildlife are starving and dying from dehydration - these animals are roadside near Broken Hill in the outback
A severe drought gripping much of rural Australia has become so intense that even native animals - fully adapted to the harsh environment - are starving to death.

It has been the worst drought in 116 years for parts of New South Wales, South Australia, Victoria and Queensland, leaving paddocks bare and drying up dams.

And it isn't just the sheep and cows struggling to survive in the record dry - the Australian fauna which is supposed to thrive in Australia's dry climate is being hit hard.

'This is the worst drought I have seen in 40 years. Droughts come and go but this one is severe,' the farmer said.

Tamworth has had 93.4mm of rain so far this year, which is a quarter of the average.

cows drought

Cows are dying from starvation and dehydration in normally fertile areas such as Tamworth in NSW's central west (above)

'We realised the season was going bad this time last year, and we started cutting numbers then - but we have had to sell the core stock now. We have never had to do that before,' he said.

His property is littered with the carcasses of dead cows, with some perishing in the mud as they tried to get water from dried up damns.

Even kangaroos and emus are dying.

The kangaroos are a big problem for farmers trying to hang on to their last few cows as well.

'You can be driving through the paddock to check on your 30 cows and see more than 60 roos,' he said.

'We had a good season in 2014/2015 so the roos reproduced and now they are out of control.'

It's a similar story in Broken Hill, with animals becoming increasingly desperate because of a lack of water.

Jodie Pearce has to pull dead emus out of her house-dam before she can have a shower every morning.
emu drought

Jodie Pearce from Broken Hill, in far NSW's far west, has to pull dead emus from her house dam every morning - they drown trying to get to the water

She says she loves living on the land and takes the good with the bad. But it is an emotionally-draining job to wake up to everyday.

The farmers' suffering has a flow-on effect in town, with landowners not having any money in their pockets to spend.

'This is going to have a huge impact on Tamworth, everyone except the government employees will be hit hard,' the farmer said.

'We are using the bore to keep what's left of our sheep alive,"Ms Pearce said. "The house tank is ok at this stage as long as I keep removing the dead emus straight away.

'Both the kangaroos and emus are starving as they need grass whereas the sheep will nibble on bushes,' she said.

The only animals that appear to be thriving in the drought are the feral pigs, which have been feasting on the dead carcasses.
pigs drought

These feral pigs come out at night - and are thriving in the drought conditions as they feast on the carcasses of the dead cows and kangaroos this farm is in Tamworth

cow dead drought australia

This cow is actually standing up - the mud sucks the animals into the earth like quick sand - this farm is in Tamworth

Anthony Steel, who took the photos on a friend's farm, hunts the pigs which have caused huge amounts of damage to the drought-ravaged land.

Mr Steel lives on a property but isn't a farmer - he just likes the rural setting.

But he has been left in shock over the recent drought.

The native animals are also becoming a dangerous hazard for drivers - with more having to come to the roadside to find grass or water and many ending up as roadkill.

The farmer is also questioning the price of meat in the supermarket.

'We are getting 20 percent less for cattle than we would have been getting last year.
australia year before drought

'These photos were taken a year apart and the difference is huge,' Mr Steel said
australia drought
'People are paying too much on the shelves,' he said.

The farmer opened up about his troubles after selling his last few cows - but knows he isn't alone.

'I was talking to the truck driver and he has been to a few farms to collect the rest of their stock for the cattle yards.

'We were just holding on hoping for rain but have broken.

'My stock agent said I sold at a good time because plenty of others have had to do the same thing.'

He is only a small beef producer compared to many of his neighbours.

'In times like this the bigger you are the more pain you are in - because you pay to feed the cattle and the bill keeps going up but the rain never comes,' he said.

In May a Bureau of Meteorology spokesman told Daily Mail Australia the agency recognised the impact of the recent dry climate on farmers, and was committed to providing the best science.

The spokesman said the recent climate outlook came at a time in the cycle where predictability was low.

'Climate outlooks are probabilistic, not categorical forecasts,' he said.

'That means a 60 per cent chance of above average rainfall, also means a 40 per cent of below average rainfall.'

'You're not guaranteed a win because there is always that element of chance, but know that in the long run, having the odds in your favour will mean you come out ahead,' a BOM video about its climate outlook maps said.

australia drought map

It has been the driest year in 116 years in many of NSW's farming regions.

Broken Hill has had just 18.2mm their average is 149.6mm

Cobar has had 24.6mm the average there is 237.6mm

Dubbo has had 74mm their average yearly fall is 353.6mm

Tamworth has had 93.4mm which is far less than the average of 356mm

cow drought

A dead cow - many farmers have sold all of their stock - so they don't die in the paddock this farm is in Tamworth
cattle dead drought

This dead bull 'fell over' and didn't have the energy to get back on its feet - this is a common cause of death for cows in times of severe drought this farm is in Tamworth
eagle drought

These wedge tail eagles feast on a dead kangaroo - some of the paddocks appear to have grass but because it is from last season it is low quality this farm is in Tamworth
emu dam

Jodie Pearce has to pull dead emus out of her house-dam before she can have a shower every morning
australia drought

These emus have been hit by cars - after being forced to look further afield for water - pictures taken near Broken Hill