ZAA Wildlife Bushfire Recovery Project Update
Whilst all of us at ZAA have been responding to support members throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, some of our team have been busy working hard in the background on our wildlife bushfire recovery work.
A panel of members from the ZAA Wildlife Conservation Committee (WCC) assessed the applications for funding from the ZAA Bushfire Appeal, which raised over $1 million dollars earlier this year. Their recommendations for the successful projects was approved by the ZAA Finance Audit & Risk Committee and the applicants have been notified.
We’re very excited to announce the following areas of work across all three phases of the ZAA response which will support native Australian species through rescue, assessment and recovery actions.
Rescue and rehabilitation in the Barrington region
The Barrington region north of Sydney in NSW was heavily impacted by
drought and bushfire in 2019/20. ZAA-accredited organisation, Aussie
Ark, were able to respond and save a number of wildlife in the area
including brush-tail rock-wallabies, platypus and multiple species of
turtle. In regular communication with government, their team spent time
in the field relocating animals to safer locations and monitoring the
condition of those that required further care daily.
Aussie Ark began their rescue and rehab work in the Barrington in
December and continued for several months given some of the long-term
affects of drought and bushfire on wildlife leaving them vulnerable to
starvation, predation and car strike. The rescue efforts aimed to:
• To provide veterinary care and ongoing health monitoring for platypus populations in the Upper Hunter and Manning regions.
• To provide care, husbandry and a variety of food to provide
nutritional needs to the platypus until their release back to their wild
• To release rescued and rehabilitation platypus back to the wild around September 2020
• To continue weekly monitoring and feeding of wild brush-tailed rock-wallaby populations through to September 2020.
• To provide daily care, husbandry and a variety of food to provide nutritional needs to the turtles during their care.
• To establish an insurance breeding program with 20 Hunter River turtles and release some animals back to the wild.
Ex situ management for bushfire affected species
Earlier in the year, ZAA hosted an extensive workshop of experts to
assess and plan for the role captive breeding and management could play
in bushfire recovery. This process allowed ZAA to review what facilities
and animal care expertise was available as well as which affected
species may require captive breeding support.
Priorities were then determined based on several aspects including,
but not limited to, species vulnerability, likelihood of success,
husbandry knowledge, historical breeding success and geographic spread.
The workshop and resulting project provided a roadmap for how the zoo
sector can play its role in the government’s wider wildlife drought and
bushfire recovery actions.
Threatened species assessment and coordination
A report commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund estimates that
almost 3 billion native animals (vertebrates) were killed or otherwise
affected by the 2019/20 bushfires. With an overall estimate like this,
it’s clear that re-assessing the conservation status (i.e vulnerable,
endangered, critically endangered etc.) of Australian native species
will be critical to receiving formal conservation support and EPBC Act
protection for affected species.
We must first understand the damage done to develop a roadmap for where recovery efforts should be focused.
The ZAA Threatened Species Assessment and Coordination project will
employ and train three experts as ZAA Threatened Species Assessors (ZAA
TSAs) to assist Federal Government and the Threatened Species Scientific
Committee with this assessment and communicate with government to
identify conservation needs, help plan effective and coordinated
measures, and mobilise action.
ZAA TSAs would be trained to the Federal Standard, using the Common
Assessment Method, and would also undergo training to ensure that
assessments meet the requirements for IUCN Red Listing, as well as any