The Importance of Volunteers to our Wildlife Conservation Mission
One of Science for Wildlife’s core values is Collaboration. We value the involvement of others as it ensures we deliver the highest quality conservation outcomes, enables us to connect communities to wildlife, helps build stewardship for conservation in the local community and also allows us to apply our research to on-ground conservation action. Without our volunteers, many of our projects and initiatives would not be as effective and in some instances, not possible at all.
Who are our volunteers and what role do they play?
Our volunteers come from a variety of different community contexts including environmental and community groups, bushwalking clubs, universities and of course as individuals. We have had over 300 volunteers participate in our Blue Mountains Koala Project so far across two study sites, and 27 university students have undertaken placements and training with us, including post-graduate students undertaking their research projects.
Our volunteers work on a number of essential ongoing projects in our wildlife conservation mission. These include:
- Assisting with our recent Koala Rescue – Our volunteers helped the Science for Wildlife team to radio-track and spot koalas so they could be captured and removed from the fire threat. They have also assisted in the collection of browse for these koalas, both during the rescue operation and on an ongoing basis, and transporting it to Taronga zoo on a weekly basis. This work is essential as it ensures that the koalas in rehabilitation at the zoo have access to their regular food source. Our volunteers also assisted with the transportation of the koalas from Kanangra-Boyd National Park to the zoo. This was an important part of koala welfare as we could send a small number of koalas in each car and minimise stress on the animals; for example we wouldn’t want two mature males sitting next to each other.
- Koala Habitat Surveys – Our volunteers assist with our annual Intrepid Koala Scat Surveys; a project concentrated on mapping koala habitats using scat (koala droppings). This important project allows us to map preferred koala habitats at each of our study sites, so that conservation management can be targeted to the most important areas. Unless we know where koalas live and what habitats they need, we can’t conserve them.
- Water Station Project – Our volunteers have helped to build and install over 80 water stations for wildlife during the bushfire crisis. They are also assisting in the regular maintenance of these stations, ensuring that the water is fresh, clean and always available.
- Food drops – Volunteers are helping with food drops across 3 sites in areas where the understorey has been burnt. Due to the significant removal of vegetation by fire, these areas have little to no food sources for ground animals such as wallabies, kangaroos and wombats.
- Camera installation for water station monitoring – Volunteers have assisted in the installation and maintenance of cameras which allow us to monitor food and water station usage and also to assess what species of wildlife are using them. That will tell us where we need to maintain food and water, where animals have survived the fires, and where invasive species might be a problem.
- Radio-tracking koalas released back into the wild – Once released back into the wild, our specially trained remote-area volunteers will help to radio-track our koalas so we can ensure they settle back into the wild ok.
- Helping online – Behind the scenes volunteers have kept things running by assisting with field project volunteer coordination, data entry, equipment sourcing and transport, logistics, GIS mapping and other specialist tasks.
Why volunteers are important to the Science for Wildlife mission
Our volunteers are paramount to the implementation of wildlife projects and the longevity of our organisation. During this bushfire crisis, it has been heartening that so many people have wanted to help and by involving our community in the conservation of wildlife, we have been able to make a scalable impact during this time of crisis. Volunteer involvement also allows us to share information with our local community about wildlife management, ensuring future sustainability for conservation efforts.
“Our volunteers have played an essential role in the recent and ongoing bushfire crisis. We could not have achieved any meaningful scale in our emergency bushfire response activities without them. Their generous support allowed us to act quickly and effectively, which resulted in food and water across more site, helping more wildlife. The crisis is far from over but with the support of our volunteer community, we are confident that Science for Wildlife will continue to make a difference.”
– Dr Kellie Leigh, Executive Director of Science for Wildlife
How can you volunteer
You don’t have to be a scientist to volunteer and make a difference! We offer different activities that suit different levels of experience and fitness throughout the year. If you have experience in off-track bushwalking we offer fieldwork training for more complex areas of our research projects. If you would like to join us, simply subscribe via our volunteer page on our website. We will keep you updated about opportunities to assist with Science for Wildlife projects, from online and administrations jobs through to remote fieldwork.
Please note that we’ve had a big increase in volunteer offers since the bushfires. For now we don’t need more help but if you register you’ll receive news of opportunities as soon as they come up.
If you are a post-graduate student enrolled in a university and would like to undertake a study project with us, or simply get some hands-on experience, please contact us directly.
For projects updates and to learn more about Science for Wildlife community, visit our projects page here.