Take a photo of Kangaroo Island roadkill for science

HOT SPOT: It is estimated as many as 400 kangaroos per year are killed on Hog Bay Road at Pelican Lagoon on Kangaroo Island.
HOT SPOT: It is estimated as many as 400 kangaroos per year are killed on Hog Bay Road at Pelican Lagoon on Kangaroo Island.

Kangaroo Island residents and visitors are being urged to slow down (safely), stop the car and take a photo of any dead animals they see on the road or by the side of the road.

They can then upload the images to the new Roadkill Reporter app, which will help create a reliable estimate of yearly Australian roadkill and national hot spots.

It's all part of a nationwide citizen science project being undertaken by a 76-year-old Tasmanian PhD student to document roadkill around Australia during the month of October.

KI's own citizen scientists meanwhile have estimated as many as 400 kangaroos per year are killed on Hog Bay Road at Pelican Lagoon, one of the Island roadkill hot spots. A report is being prepared for local authorities.

Bruce Englefield, a PhD student and researcher in the School of Veterinary Science at the University of Sydney, said roadkill impacted on the Australian environment by wiping out more than four million mammals and six million birds, reptiles and other creatures a year.

It could contribute to species such as koalas, wedge-tailed eagles and Tasmanian devils becoming extinct in the wild, he said.

"Vehicles are the new predator on the block," Mr Englefield said. "Animals have no innate survival behaviour to protect themselves. Vehicles give little warning, travel at a speed unknown in any other predator and kill indiscriminately, a recipe for extinction."

DEVIL HERO: Bruce Englefield is also the founder and former CEO of the Devil Island Project, a conservation project for Tasmanian devils.

DEVIL HERO: Bruce Englefield is also the founder and former CEO of the Devil Island Project, a conservation project for Tasmanian devils.

The Roadkill Reporter app, developed by Mr Englefield, is designed to take a photograph of roadkill anywhere in Australia with a GPS-time-and-date-stamp.

Users can then upload the image to a website. This will enable a reliable estimate of yearly Australian roadkill to be calculated and roadkill hot spots to be identified. The free app is available now for iPhone and Android phones.

"I got interested in roadkill when I went out one night to rescue a wombat joey that a tourist had found and, even though I was driving carefully, I hit and road-killed a possum on the way home," said Mr Englefield, who is based in Tasmania. "Then when I started my research on roadkill rescue and how this affects the wildlife carers, I found there were no national data on roadkill numbers or even wildlife carers.

"By getting people involved it will highlight just how serious a problem roadkill is not only for humans and the animals, but also for the environment and conservation," Mr Englefield said.

He told The Islander that knowing the hot spots would help local and State Governments take action by adding signs, adjusting the road rules and even building structures such as fences and bridges to separate cars and wildlife.

This comes as insurance data from RAA shows record numbers of kangaroo crash claims lodged in South Australia last financial year.

Figures show a 34 per cent rise in claims involving kangaroos, up from 1670 in 2018/19 compared to 1249 the previous financial year.

The Roadkill App was self-funded by Mr Englefield, aged 76, who is a former Tasmanian of the Year (2008), Australian of the Year Tasmania (2010) and Australian Tourism Small Business Champion (2010).

He is also the founder and former CEO of the Devil Island Project, a conservation project for Tasmanian devils.

After a career in television, he returned to university at the age of 51, to obtain a Master of Science in animal behavior and training. He is now a PhD student and researcher at the University of Sydney.

"I am 76 years old and have always had a wonderment of nature, which coupled with an enquiring mind, drives me to try to share this enthusiasm with others through learning and then passing on knowledge," he said.

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