ZAA response to the drought and bushfire wildlife crisis
With the current drought and bushfire crisis in Australia, reports now estimate 800 million native animals affected by Australia's bushfire crisis in NSW and more than one billion nationally, with many more injured or displaced and facing a tough time ahead while food resources are low and predators have greater opportunities to prey on native species whose habitats have been destroyed.
Many of our Association’s member zoos and wildlife parks run wildlife hospitals, rescue and rehabilitation facilities and those in or near fire affected areas are facing an overwhelming number of native animals requiring both short and long-term support.
The Zoo and Aquarium Association (ZAA) is coordinating a collaborative response to the emerging rescue and rehabilitation needs of affected wildlife. This will allow us to bring together the significant expertise, resources, equipment and facilities across our membership to help native animals in the crisis affected areas.
The effects of this crisis on wildlife and their destroyed habitats is going to require a long-term approach so the ZAA fire and drought response will also consider what’s needed in years ahead to rehabilitate our surviving native wildlife and ensure that we can return them to livable habitats.
This approach aims to execute three key phases:
Phase one - placing rescued native animals with appropriate facilities and expert care for treatment, ongoing rehabilitation and preparation to return to the wild.
Phase two – assessing the impacts on wildlife and habitat to understand where rehabilitation efforts are most needed.
Phase three – medium and long-term recovery efforts to return healthy animals to regenerated habitats and revive and sustain populations of wildlife in affected areas.
You can help our wildlife rescue efforts by contributing to the ZAA Wildlife Conservation Fund (WCF). The funds raised will be allocated appropriately by the Wildlife Conservation Committee to focus on:
- Rescue and rehabilitation of drought and fire-affected Australian native wildlife with the specific end-goal of returning healthy rehabilitated animals back to the wild;
- Restoration, rehabilitation and ongoing care and resilience improvement of drought and fire-affected Australian native habitats;
- Science and research geared toward reassessing species status, habitat regeneration and other science-related projects
- Activities that continue to support or help establish federal and/or state endorsed, targeted breed for release conservation activities.
Update: 19 February 2020
The Zoo and Aquarium Association (ZAA) is working via the Minister of Environment and Threatened Species’ Expert Panel to assist with the significant work of wildlife recovery after this summer’s devastating drought and bushfire season.
The latest statistics on affected species and habitats identified as requiring urgent management intervention is available on the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment’s website: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/bushfire-recovery/research-and-resources
ZAA has direct input via the Threatened Species Commissioner’s Expert Panel, appointed to assist in prioritising recovery actions for native species, ecological communities, natural assets and their cultural values for First Nations Australians.
Currently, ZAA is working with a group of stakeholders to collate as much data as possible to understand the opportunities for species breeding programs and long-term recovery via ZAA member zoos and wildlife sanctuaries.
A workshop with key stakeholders will take place to review this information and develop an action plan for the ex-situ community to play an active role in the wider wildlife recovery plan.
After receiving valuable support from the Australian and global community via the ZAA Drought and Bushfire Appeal, the Association is still accepting funding applications for phase one of the response plan: placing rescued native animals with appropriate facilities and expert care for treatment, ongoing rehabilitation and preparation to return to the wild.
The next phase is to assess the impacts on wildlife and habitat to understand where rehabilitation efforts are most needed. ZAA has already connected with government to explore an effective approach to the assessment challenge created by the drought and bushfire crisis. A portion of funding from the appeal will support these critical assessment activities during phase two of ZAA’s response plan.
Funding for phase three go towards supporting the medium and long-term recovery efforts to return healthy animals to regenerated habitats and revive and sustain populations of wildlife in affected areas.
Applications to receive funding for phases two and three will open at a later date.
How is the donated money being used?
Thank you to everyone who has supported the ZAA Wildlife Conservation Fund (WCF) Australian Drought and Bushfire Crisis Response to raise money for wildlife rescue, rehabilitation and long-term recovery. We’re now accepting funding applications from ZAA welfare-accredited zoos and wildlife parks for phase one of the ZAA Drought and Bushfire Crisis Response. Applications for phase two and phase three will open at a later date.
Phase one encompasses: placing rescued native animals with appropriate facilities and expert care for treatment, ongoing rehabilitation and preparation to return to the wild. This phase aims to address the short-term requirements of wildlife impacted by drought and bushfires. The bushfire season continues for the next six weeks and wildlife rescue continues to be required in the coming months.
Phase two: assessing the impacts on wildlife and habitat to understand where rehabilitation efforts are most needed.
Phase three: medium and long-term recovery efforts to return healthy animals to regenerated habitats and revive and sustain populations of wildlife in affected areas.
Decisions on funding applications are made by a sub-group of the ZAA Wildlife Conservation Committee, which comprises three members of the Committee. Guiding principles for applicants are as follows:
- Projects will be assessed in line with the principles of the IUCN Conservation Planning Specialist Group’s One-Plan Approach.
- Humane treatment must be a priority for all animals impacted as part of this project incorporating positive animal welfare principles (see Five Domains).
- Projects that can demonstrate support for Environment Protection Biodiversity Conservation (Act 1999) listed species, or with measurable conservation outcomes will be prioritised.
- Participation or support from Association zoos or aquariums in projects will be preferred.
- It is understood that wildlife conservation projects may not have a zoo breeding/management component, nor that the focal/target species need necessarily be held in zoos.
- Where wildlife conservation projects involve reintroduction or relocation, such processes must be endorsed by relevant government bodies.
- We recognise the importance of sensitive integration of wildlife conservation goals and communities in successful in-situ conservation programs.
- Projects should adhere to the principles of good governance and undertake a risk assessment on participant safety, project financial stability or legislative requirements.
- A draft budget should be presented with clear priorities for support and/or funding.
- All funds should be requested in Australian dollars.
ZAA does not retain WCF funds for office administration or staff wages, these expenses are covered by other income streams such as membership fees. All funds donated for the ZAA Drought and Bushfire Crisis appeal will go to those projects allocated by the ZAA Wildlife Conservation Committee for rescue, rehabilitation and long-term recovery activities and their associated operating costs.
ZAA will provide ongoing updates on the allocation of WCF funds in addition to our usual annual reporting responsibilities with the ACNC.