Conservation from your couch: 7 ways to help animals from home
The era of self-isolation and social distancing is leaving many of us feeling a little bit helpless. But did you know you can make a big difference to our native plants and animals from the comfort of your own home?
We've pulled together a list of ways you can safely maintain your social distance and assist our most vulnerable native animals.
1. Be an armchair detective
Yep, there's a way to put your true crime obsession to use and help threatened species. You can do it all online using DigiVol, which is kind of like a conservation 'Where's Wally?'.
Anyone can log on to tell us what threatened species they see in the tens of thousands of images that have been captured by the remote cameras Saving our Species has set up to monitor rare plants and animals.
Analysing the images and recording the number of species in the photos helps the threatened species officers make better decisions about how best to save our native animals, and can help identify some of the threats that are disturbing our threatened animals.
DigiVol is a collaboration between the Australian Museum and the Atlas of Living Australia.
2. Binge some reality TV
Looking for a new show to binge? You’re in luck, because we’ve found some reality stars that are far more captivating than the Kardashians!
Our live cam in the Green Gully area of Oxley Wild Rivers National Park gives you a peek into the world of the brush-tailed rock-wallaby without needing to leave home.
An endangered species in NSW, brush-tailed rock-wallabies are hard to see in the wild. They live in rugged terrain along rocky outcrops, cliffs, ledges and caves. Their steep rocky habitat is hard to access and their natural colouration provides perfect camouflage from predators, like foxes and feral cats.
3. Inspire a new generation of ecologists
With plenty of little ones to keep occupied, now is the perfect time to pique your children's interest in conservation.
Saving our Species has plenty of resources to get your kids actively learning about our threatened species, from fun colouring-in pages and masks to engaging educational fact sheets, which are all available online for free:
- Threatened animals colouring-in pages and masks
- The southern bell frog story – follow the frog's journey from tiny egg, to tadpole, to a young frog leaving its summer wetland
- Riverina Grassland Ramblings – explore the grasslands and meet the enigmatic and endangered plains wanderer
- Saving the southern bell frog – an educational resource for students from Years 3 to 6
- Koala Kids – help your kids learn why koalas are so special
- The mountain pygmy-possum: on the edge – an interactive teaching resource for Stage 6 geography students.
4. Kill some time, learn some things
There is so much to learn about our native plants and animals – put your knowledge to the test in our interactive quizzes. You may just pick up a few new facts along the way.
Designed to get the whole family thinking, challenge yourself to a deep dive on the Manning River turtle, test your knowledge of the spotted-tailed quoll or brush up on your glossy black-cockatoo knowledge.
For something a little less tricky, take one of our personality quizzes:
- What’s your Aussie threatened species alter-ego?
- Which iconic threatened species is most like you?
- What unfrogettable threatened frog are you?
5. Plant a native tree
You're probably spending more time in the garden now than ever before, finally getting around to all those chores you've put off for years. You could use this downtime to help provide both habitat and food for our threatened wildlife, by planting a native tree, shrub or flower.
If you've got the room for them, forest red gums (Eucalyptus tereticornis) and swamp mahoganies (Eucalyptus robusta) make great food trees for koalas and nectar-feeding bats and birds, and tallowwood (Eucalyptus microcorys) will keep koalas sated in years to come.
And if you don't have a garden, don't worry. Wildflowers like the everlasting daisy (Xerochrysum spp) can thrive in pots on your balcony, introduce a pop of colour and attract birds, bees and butterflies.
6. Birdwatch from your balcony
Found yourself with a bit more time on your hands than usual? Birds in Backyards are interested in learning what unusual or unexpected birds are turning up in your backyard this autumn, after the summer bushfires displaced countless animals across the country. The survey is running until the end of April and you can report your sightings from home.
Saving our Species is also calling on community members across the South West Slopes of New South Wales to report their sightings of the charismatic threatened superb parrot, to help solve the mystery about where and how these parrots spend their time over autumn and winter.
You can record your sightings or conduct surveys from anywhere at any time.
7. Listen to a new soundtrack
Did you know that if you hear frogs calling where you live, it's a sign that your area is healthy and unspoilt? And because each species of frog has its own unique call, it's possible to discover which frogs live nearby.
If you're not a frog song specialist, that's OK – just download the FrogID app and Australian Museum and Audio DNA experts can help you identify the species. You'll also be contributing to Australia's frog count, so scientists can learn more about where frogs are and how they're doing.
Today, we’re at risk of losing nearly 1000 of our state’s native animals and plants. Saving our Species is investing in over 400 threatened species and ecological communities, from the brush-tailed rock-wallaby to the spotted-tailed quoll. Join the movement to save our one-of-a-kind species.