A love for Australia’s wildlife lies at the core of our nation’s identity. It sustains our wellbeing. That is something that Dr Leonie Valentine can personally attest to as her passion for wildlife has helped her through good times and bad. Here she explains how.
I’ve wanted to be a zoologist since I was 4. It began with a field trip in the rainforests of Queensland’s Wet Tropics, an expedition led by the renowned zoologist George Heinsohn. The story goes (for truth be said I can’t remember much of this, it’s a story my father recounts) that I followed George around, watching him capture and identify all sorts of animals. I informed my parents that this is what I wanted to do when I grew up.
Many of Australia’s possums and gliders are under threat. Good information about where different species are greatly assists conservation programs. Members of the public can play a valuable role in helping to collect this information in their own backyards, and surrounding parks and natural areas.
Red foxes are one of the greatest threats to Australia’s native mammals and pose a major risk to livestock. To combat this, Australia spends more than $16 million per year on red fox control, with much of that money directed to poison baiting.
An international study led by The Australian National University has found a fungal disease has caused dramatic population declines in more than 500 amphibian species, including 90 extinctions, over the past 50 years.
The world is changing. Some of this change is planned and desirable. But much else is an unwanted consequence of the expansion of the human species. Those unwanted impacts will affect our lives and those of our descendants.
After undergraduate majors in Geography, Environmental Science and Botany, I did my PhD on native grasslands. I was struck by how these Critically Endangered ecosystems existing right on the edge of my city were being lost without most people even knowing about them – or understanding what amazing, super diverse ecosystems they are.