Queensland is the second-largest and third-most-populous state in Australia and is home many of the close to 1000 different bird species, over 700 reptile species and almost 400 mammal species that are found in Australia. With an area of 1,852,642 km2, Queensland is enormous and still overwhelmingly undeveloped and untouched by contemporary human development. However, the loss of precious habitats and the fragmentation of bushland into smaller and more isolated pockets and the spread of feral, predatory animals such at the household cat mean that many native species are struggling to survive.
A prime example of this is the Bridled Nailtail Wallaby (Onychogalea fraenata), a small wallaby found in three isolated areas in Queensland and whose population is in rapid decline. The total population of the species is currently estimated to be less than 300 mature individuals in the wild. It was once quite widely distributed throughout eastern Australia, but following European arrival on the continent and from the 1900s in particular, the species suffered dramatically from shooting for its beautifully marked fur and also because it was considered a pest to farmers. Current threats to the species include predation by introduced species, wildfires and prolonged drought and habitat destruction by the pastoral industry which also results in an increased competition for food sources.
Other species at the centre include the Northern Hairy-nosed Wombats and Squirrel Glider Possums. By volunteering for this project, you can help to stop the rapid decline of these precious native species through rescue, research and conservation.
WHAT DOES THE PROJECT DO?
This conservation and research centre has been in existence for almost 15 years and is dedicated to the protection and enhancement of Australia’s natural environment and native species. The rescue and rehabilitation of injured, ill and orphaned wildlife is one of the main activities of the centre, which also provides extensive support and assistance to many volunteer wildlife carers around the community. The centre also manages a number of captive husbandry and breeding programmes in partnership with local government authorities, universities and zoological institutions to conduct vital research on Australian wildlife, with emphasis on threatened species. The centre welcomes volunteers from all over the world, as well as students and researchers who want to gain experience and contribute to the important work of the project.
WHAT WILL I BE DOING?
This project is a unique way to experience the everyday running of a rescue, rehabilitation and research centre that cares for vulnerable and endangered wildlife. Volunteer efforts are integral to the successful functioning of the centre and its programmes and it’s important to remember how your small contribution impacts the long-term goals of this project.
Your day to day activities may include feeding efforts and food preparation, cleaning and maintaining animal shelters, property maintenance, husbandry and assistance with research and data collection. There is also the possibility that you may be able to help hand-rear joeys, depending on necessity and appropriateness when you are on the project. Especially during the warmer months, days start very early and break for rest during the heat of the day before reconvening to finish tasks in the afternoon. It’s important to be flexible and adaptive as you may be required to assist with several different tasks depending on the priorities of the centre when you are there.