Purposeful Partnerships: Saving our Species + Aussie Ark

We had the pleasure of chatting to President for Aussie Ark Tim Faulkner for this month’s Purposeful Partnerships feature article. Tim’s passion and drive for the natural world has steered his career – with some remarkable results. Hear about the origins of Aussie Ark and what they’re all about, what made Tim get involved in conservation, and how we can all help our native animals survive and thrive.

Tim Faulkner with Manning RIver helmeted turtle (Myuchelys purvisi)

Conservation daredevils

It all started in 2011 as ‘Devil Ark’, with a humble dream of responding to the Tasmanian devil plight. Now – following overwhelming success, Aussie Ark has a daring vision of creating a long-term future for a range of our threatened Australian species. This includes securing wild sanctuaries to conserve native wildlife, free from unnatural predation, like their headquarters in the beautiful heritage-listed Barrington Tops of NSW. Aussie Ark is NSW’s largest independently owned and operated conservation organisation and is home to seven keystones species once found in the Barrington Tops, such as the Tasmanian devil, Eastern quoll, and long-nosed potoroo.

80% of Aussie Ark employees, including Tim, work on-the-ground within Aussie Ark sanctuaries and insurance populations, to maximise the outcomes for wildlife and projects. To him, the magic of Aussie Ark lies in its a unique methodology, creating insurance populations for return to wild. “The importance of Aussie Ark’s work lies in its value to restore ecosystems, returning missing species back to the wild”, he said.

Speaking for those who have no voice

Tim has been working in the zoology industry since he was 14, with the natural world being his passion from an early age. “I’ve always believed in being a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves”, he said.

Following his dream, Tim is now a renowned leader in the Australian zoological industry and in conservation organisations worldwide, recognised in 2015 when he was awarded the Australian Geographic Conservationist of the Year for his work and contribution in the conservation of the Tasmanian devil at Aussie Ark.

At Saving our Species (SoS), we are more than aware that the term ‘biodiversity’ can mean different things to different people – with many not knowing what the term means at all. When asked what ‘biodiversity’ means to him, Tim explained, “Quite simply, biodiversity is life. Without it, what is left? Biodiversity is the variety of life; it is every living creature”.

So, if you’re struggling to understand the scope of the term, we think Tim’s definition fits the bill perfectly.

We can all be more like Tim

You don’t have to be a conservationist to do your bit for our threatened plants and animals. There’s lots that we can all be doing to protect our wildlife – both nationally and in our own back yards. Support conservation organisations like Aussie Ark by donating, visiting, and shopping with them. For example, you could set up your backyard as your very own wildlife haven.

Tim explained, “You can make a big difference toward helping the wildlife around you survive and thrive by creating a garden that will attract and feed a variety of wildlife and help restore and protect wildlife habitats”. Plus, native plants look beautiful – so both you and the local wildlife can enjoy them.

Collaborative conservation

Aussie Ark and Saving our Species, in partnership with a range of other conservation organisations, are working together to maximise the benefits for threatened species. For example, a joint project saw the celebration of the birth of two endangered brush-tailed rock-wallaby joeys last year, offering hope for the future of this species. We also recently had the pleasure of visiting Aussie Ark in the Barrington Tops and seeing Tasmanian devil joeys frolicking in the snow (and you can too, through their Devils in the Wild tours).

Another impactful project Aussie Ark and SoS are working on together is the Manning River helmeted turtle partnership. Unfortunately, in recent years the endangered Manning River helmeted turtle has seen a significant decline in numbers, although the full extent is not known. The species faces a range of threats, including predation, illegal poaching, habitat degradation and disease. Aussie Ark’s proven model in establishing robust and healthy insurance populations, the husbandry expertise of the Australian Reptile Park, and ongoing in-situ population surveys with SoS, have enabled us to change the trajectory of this unique Australian species. 

“Collaborative conservation is key, together our impact is bigger. We look forward to working with SoS to continue fighting for the vulnerable”, Tim said.

And with a range of exciting projects on the horizon, we can’t wait to continue kicking conservation goals together.