After assessing the state of native wildlife in the greater Barrington Tops region, Aussie Ark president Tim Faulkner is calling for an urgent collaborative response to help save what is left.
The Australian conservationist believes the mass loss of life among native animals across the State deserves to be classed as a New South Wales Native Wildlife State of Emergency.
A recent visit by Aussie Ark and Australian Reptile Park staff to assess the drought and fire affected areas the wider region around Aussie Ark's sanctuary in the Barrington Tops region, east of Gloucester, revealed devastating results.
Staff had to relocate 50 endangered Hunter River turtles from dried up waterways, while 10 platypus were found and transferred with five requiring veterinary care due to their poor health. They also monitored and provided food drops for brush-tailed rock wallabies and assessed the possibility of emergency intervention for the critically endangered Manning River helmeted turtle.
By definition, a State of Emergency is declared by a Government in a situation of national danger or disaster resulting in the suspension of normal constitutional procedures in order to regain control of the situation.
In past two months, a State of Emergency was declared by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian in response to catastrophic fire danger, handing over certain NSW Government powers to the Rural Fire Service commissioner.
Drought conditions have seen the rivers around the Mid Coast region gradually slow to a standstill, affecting a range of animals including the endangered Manning River helmeted turtle. On Monday, December 23, Tim spearheaded a collection of a turtles from the Manning and Barnard rivers in an effort to ensure the species would be saved.
When fire ravaged the Port Macquarie region, it's believed up to 350 koalas perished when their habitat was destroyed while dozens were taken to the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital for treatment.
The endangered brush-tailed rock wallaby is being severely affected by both the drought and fire conditions, with the dwindling population in the Curracabundi National Park area encircled by the Giro fire. Tim found a population of these wallabies by the banks of the Barnard River on the brink of starvation, prompting increased action by Aussie Ark staff to keep on eye on them.
"Nobody has declared a native wildlife crisis, yet that is exactly what it is - a native wildlife state of emergency. So much has been lost already and it won't come back without help," Tim said.
"What is needed is a mass upscaling of initiatives and projects that directly impact native wildlife."
Tim believes this can be achieved with public and private partnerships, bringing together corporate, government, philanthropic, community and conservation groups to recognise the crisis and support organisations on the ground.
"We need to rebuild. What is needed is a mass-scaled combined effort and it is needed now, not later. Many of the species affected were already at risk of extinction, such as koalas, brush-tailed rock wallabies, turtles, quolls and platypus."
- Aussie Ark is a not-for-profit organisation that has vision of creating a long-term future for threatened Australian species by securing wild sanctuaries to conserve native wildlife, free from unnatural predation. It's an incorporated association, registered environmental organisation and charitable institution under the Australian Charity and Not-for-profit Commission.