Shocked wallaby clings to mum's dead body on side of the road

The heartbreaking image speaks to a wider problem for Australia's wildlife.

Riley, a tiny wallaby joey, was freezing and quietly chittering when he was photographed clinging to the body of his dead mother at the edge of a South Australian road this week.

If he hadn't been found on Tuesday, the four-month-old would have succumbed to shock, freezing temperatures or predators.

Luckily for the joey, he was found by Shelly Burrowes who runs Hamilton Wildlife Shelter. She had just travelled over the border from Victoria and into the town of Frances when she saw him.

A tiny wallaby clinging to its dead mother by a roadside.
A tiny wallaby was photographed clinging to the body of its dead mother. Source: Hamilton Wildlife Shelter

Wallaby warmed up in rescuer's car

Shelley was driving through a bushy area where wallabies are often hit by cars. She was just about to turn her car around to check the pouch of a dead wallaby on her right, when she noticed the joey and his dead mother on her left.

“I literally gasped,” she told Yahoo News Australia. “My kids were in the car and they wondered what had happened.”

Because it was raining, Riley was very cold, weak, and clearly vulnerable after the sudden death of his parent. Shelley scooped him up and warmed him inside her cardigan as she continued her trip. By the next day he was drinking well and even grooming himself.

The young wallaby is now with a carer in South Australia — close to where he was found. He’s living with a young eastern grey kangaroo orphan.

Two images of Riley in a homemade pouch in care.
Riley is now in care at a South Australian wildlife shelter. Source: Hamilton Wildlife Shelter

Cars continue to kill Australia's fragile wildlife

Riley's is just one of several sad stories shared by Yahoo in July, that capture how wildlife is being impacted by human activity. On Monday, we shared a picture of an endangered koala staring at its former home which had been demolished by government contractors to create a new road.

A separate story on Wednesday featured the photograph of a dead koala who was found close to a new housing development. A local woman said she’d lived in the area for 20 years and had never seen one alive before.

Last month, we featured a story about a young wombat who was orphaned after a car strike, but her carer is now struggling to find a place to release her because the habitat she was found in has also been transformed into a housing estate.

Doug Gimesy, the photographer who took the image, said he fears common species will increasingly disappear from our landscape as development continues to transform Australia.

If you'd like to find out more about Riley, or donate to protect other wildlife being cared for by Shelly, you can do so here.

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