Following the catastrophic Black Summer bushfires on South Australia’s Kangaroo Island, school students are using an app to monitor and protect bushfire-impacted birds!
Kangaroo Island’s Black Summer Bushfires
The Black Summer bushfires of 2019-2020 were utterly catastrophic, especially for Kangaroo Island, which is located just off the mainland of South Australia. The Kangaroo Island fires burned through 211,500 ha of land — causing the unfortunate deaths of 2 people, 25,000 koalas, the destruction of 56 homes and the decimation of bird habitats.
Kangaroo Island is often described as Australia’s Galápagos, or a “zoo without borders”. Its 5,000 residents share the island with more than 260 native bird species; 17 are endemic.
Following the bushfires, BirdLife Australia estimated that some species lost up to 80% of their natural habitat. The island still bears the scars of the bushfire season, but life is slowly emerging from the ashes.
New Hope For Bushfire-Impacted Bird Species!
With the massive loss of natural habitats and fragmented bird populations all over the island, it was clear that Kangaroo Island needed all hands on deck to prevent the extinction of bird species.
That’s why BirdLife Australia is encouraging local schools, private landholders and community group volunteers on Kangaroo Island to monitor endangered birds using their ‘Birdata’ app! The app allows community members to survey areas of the island and monitor the birds that they see.
Janelle Thomas, BirdLife Australia’s Preventing Extinctions Project Coordinator, said that using the app is important to assess the post-fire abundance and distribution of birds on Kangaroo Island.
Here’s How Kids Are Using The ‘Birdata’ App
Thanks to a $50,000 grant from Landcare Led Bushfire Recovery Grants, BirdLife Australia is engaging local schools on Kangaroo Island to participate in the project! Kids all over Kangaroo Island are being taught how to survey an area and recognise birds that are unique to the island.
“Involving the community in this work is vital, and with this funding from Landcare, we will develop resources to educate the island’s school children about the birds that are special to Kangaroo Island and what to look out for when they take part in surveys with our app, Birdata,” said Janelle.
“The next generation will be the future custodians of Kangaroo Island, so we want them to be armed with the best knowledge and experience to protect the future of the special birds.
Monitoring & Restoring Bushfire-Impacted Bird Populations
Restoring Kangaroo Island’s biodiversity is a team effort. With the Birdata app, individuals can register an account and start contributing to wildlife surveys all across Australia!
“Given the limited bird survey data for Kangaroo Island, ongoing surveys will be important to help assess the post-fire abundance and distribution of birds in the long term. This will help improve our understanding of their response to bushfires and their capacity to recover, and inform conservation efforts to help secure their populations on Kangaroo Island.
It’s clear that this remarkable place needs time to recover. But, with the help of the app, Kangaroo Island’s bushfire-impacted bird species will receive the exact help they need to thrive.
We love seeing conservation initiatives that involve the wider community — especially kids! Educating the next generation of wildlife warriors to identify, protect and cherish native species is such a valuable investment. What BirdLife Australia is achieving through their Birdata app is truly remarkable, and we hope that the ongoing surveys will aid in the conservation efforts on SA’s Kangaroo Island.
For more fantastic eco-initiatives and Aussie conservation projects, head to the Eco News category and check out the blogs below!