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Australian wildlife is being devastated by this bushfire crisis, with at least 1 billion animals lost so far. But what happens when these fires go out – can our wildlife and their habitats recover? In this special report we chat wildlife experts Professor Christopher Dickman, Tim Faulkner and Chad Staples to find out what happens next for our animals. (Spoiler alert: there IS good news!)
Professor Christopher Dickman
By December, 480 million animals had lost their lives in the New South Wales fires alone – Professor Christopher Dickman is the globally acclaimed ecologist who originally calculated that number. He talks us through the possibility of extinction, the specific behaviours of fire-affected animals, how our city critters are coping with the smoke, and most inspiringly, explains how our bush will rebuild itself. He also talks about some pretty cool little animals you’ve probably never even heard of, as well as about what’s happening with our bats/flying foxes, potoroos, and the resilience of our wildlife.
Listen: 2:33 to 26.28
Aussie Ark president Tim Faulkner explains what’s happening with our koalas. Before the fire they were already in real trouble due to habitat loss, with experts predicting they were on the trajectory to be extinct by 2050. We’ll need to think laterally to help them bounce back. Thankfully, Tim and his team have just the thing to help them do that, and to also keep them safe for decades to come – the Koala Ark project.
Listen: 26:28 to 39:03
Chad Staples has long been one of Australia’s favourite wildlifers thanks to his epic work at Featherdale. Now working as the Director of Mogo Wildlife Park, Chad and his team rescued Mogo’s 200+ animals – including everything from giraffes to lemurs to big cats – when the 31,000-hectare Clyde Mountain blaze threatened their home on New Year’s Eve. In this interview, Chad reveals how the rescue unfolded, and he also shares some exciting plans for the park in the wake of this crisis.
Listen: 39:03 to 51:55
What You Can Do
In the months to come we may still encounter animals with burns and fire-related illnesses, so our mate Denis Duggan shares WIRES’ practical tips on how you can help them.
Listen: 51:55 to 53:18
If you’d like to get involved and/or show your support, here’s where to get started: Mogo Wildlife Park, Aussie Ark’s koala project, Wildlife Victoria, WIRES (NSW only), Kangaroo Island’s Dunnarts, Kangaroo Island’s Koalas & Wildlife. See Faunographic for info.
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