Purposeful partnerships: Saving our Species + World Animal Protection

For this month’s Purposeful Partnerships feature article, World Animal Protection Executive Director Australia and New Zealand, Simone Clarke, gives her insights into the importance of conservation and the organisation's work. We'll explore how the ground-breaking flying-fox sprinkler project, in partnership with Saving our Species, is helping protect our wildlife and ensure their future.

Blue Hole picnic area, Oxley Wild Rivers National Park

To Simone, biodiversity is all about a ‘peaceful and respectful coexistence of all living things’. This sets the scene for what she and World Animal Protection stand for – moving the world to protect animals because all lives have value and play an irreplaceable part in the circle of life.

Interconnected wellbeing

Eastern grey kangaroo (Macropus giganteus) grazing in Cattai National ParkRecent bushfires, floods, drought and a global pandemic are all reminders of the fragility of our planet and the plants and animals that call it home. Simone referred to this as a ‘global ecosystem’, where ‘human, animal and planetary health and welfare are interconnected’.

It was this notion of the interconnectedness of our world that inspired her to get involved in conservation.

‘For me it was about the importance of conserving our animals, their habitats and – essentially – our planet. Human existence is entirely dependent upon a functioning, surviving and thriving planet. We simply cannot afford to ignore the interdependency of animals, environment and humanity,’ Simone explained.

Whilst we are still in the grip of a global pandemic, which is reportedly the result of pathogens jumping from animals to humans, recognising the dependency of human wellbeing on our natural environment has never been more important.

That’s why it’s World Animal Protection’s mission to end the cruelty and suffering of farmed animals and wildlife – and the passion of people like Simone is crucial in fighting for this cause.

Proudly summarising the significance of World Animal Protection’s work, Simone said, ‘We work to find new and accelerated ways to reduce the suffering and cruelty of farmed and wild animals, so that animals and humans can have a life worth living.’

World first flying-fox sprinkler project

Grey-headed flying foxes (Pteropus poliocephalus) in treesConserving wildlife is no easy task with a simple solution – it involves a wide range of organisations and individuals combining resources to achieve common goals.

An example of this is the recent flying-fox sprinkler project, made possible through Saving our Species, World Animal Protection, experts from Western Sydney University and Campbelltown Council all joining forces to find a solution to mass flying-fox deaths during scorching summer heat waves.

Flying-foxes provide key pollination and seed dispersal services and are vital to Australian biodiversity. This progressive project involved monitoring the temperatures and behaviours of a large grey-headed flying-fox camp in Campbelltown during heat events, exposing them to a cooling sprinkler system. The experiment came after tens of thousands of bats were killed during the high heat stress events in the record-breaking summer of 2019/20.

'As climate change continues to wreak havoc across the globe – animals are the worst affected. Research projects like the flying-fox sprinkler project are important interventions, applying human ingenuity to develop and test solutions to address the challenges we have created,' said Simone.

Although this past summer hasn’t been as hot, the plan is to continue research next summer to determine if sprinklers are viable so we can make decisions based on real data, and not just based on an impulse to help vulnerable animals.

Tread mindfully

In these extraordinary and uncertain (yes, we looked up synonyms for unprecedented) times, being mindful of how our actions can protect or harm our natural environment is crucial to ensuring we all have a thriving future.

Simone’s parting words of wisdom were, ‘Respect animals and their habitat and be extremely mindful of the footprint that each of us leaves and the impact each footprint has.’

Listen to her – she knows what she’s talking about.

You can find out more about World Animal Protection and how you can get involved: World Animal Protection.