WILDLIFE in Australia is struggling to survive as the country bakes in 50C temperatures during its third hottest year on record.
Heartbreaking pictures show a kangaroo battling to escape from the mud of a dried-up lake as scorching heat beats down from above.
The mammal was snapped by drone photographer Nick Moir, who also captured images of a sheep wading through thick mud in the lake.
Tragically the kangaroo was unable to free itself and died after running out of energy.
Moir initially came under fire for not helping the animal after his photos went viral, but he later revealed he had raised the alarm with wildlife officials who said it was too difficult to save.
Oz forecasters at the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) announced 2018 narrowly beat 2017 the country’s third warmest year ever.
The hottest year on record was 2013, when temperatures were 1.33C above the 1961 to 1990 mean temperature.
In second place was 2005, when the mercury rose 1.5C above the mean, narrowly beating 2018 at 1.14C.
The immense heat meant it was the sixth-driest year for New South Wales.
BOM head of climate monitoring Dr Karl Braganza said: “Across Australia rainfall was out 11 per cent below average and again, it’s the lowest since 2005, which again goes back to that millennium drought period.
“It’s the most significant dry-period, post-millennium drought.”
Experts said “severe drought” hit New South Wales, Queensland, and the eastern states after particularly low levels of rainfall throughout 2017 and 2018.
Last week Australia faced roasting weather conditions as the temperatures jumped close to 50C in some regions.
In Oodnadatta and Coober Pedy, in south Australia, the mercury climbed to 47C and 46C respectively.
Oodnadatta holds the state’s weather record for the hottest January day ever at 50.7C in 1960.
Fire services have been battling wildfires brought on by the dry and hot condition.
Dr Braganza said the lack of rainfall “had a large impact on agriculture… and fire weather”.
He explained out-of-season fires were stretching the service’s ability to manage blazes in Australia.
He added: “We saw really significant bushfires along about a 600-kilometre stretch of coast in Queensland and catastrophic fire conditions.
“That lengthening fire season, which we’ve seen trends for over the last 30 years or so, was certainly evident in 2018.”
Elsewhere, Sydney is remained warm with temperatures steady around the 30C mark