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Pictures telling the story of roadkill

ROSE Bay resident Bruce Englefield has developed an app as part of a citizen science project documenting roadkill around Australia that he hopes will help make a difference for the environment and conservation.

The Roadkill Reporter app was launched in October and allows users to take a photograph of roadkill anywhere in Australia with a GPS, time and date stamp.

Users then upload the image to a website, which will enable a reliable estimate of yearly Australian roadkill to be calculated and hotspots to be identified.

Mr Englefield, a PhD student and researcher in the School of Veterinary Science at the University of Sydney, said the idea to develop the app was to help his own research when carrying out work on the Huon Highway.

“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 killed a possum on the way home,” Mr Englefield said.

“When I was carrying out research on Australian roadkill, I found there was no national data on roadkill numbers.”

Roadkill impacts the Australian environment by wiping out more than four million mammals and six million birds, reptiles and other creatures a year.

This includes contributing to species such as koalas, wedge-tailed eagles and Tasmanian devils becoming extinct in the wild.

Mr Englefield said he hoped this app would encourage people to slow down on the road, as well as encourage councils to establish mitigation measures in roadkill hotspots.

“Vehicles are the new predator on the block and animals have no innate survival behaviour to protect themselves,” he said.

“Vehicles give little warning, travel at a speed unknown in any other predator and kill indiscriminately, a recipe for extinction.”

Mr Englefield was the former owner of the Wildlife Park in Bicheno and was the founder and former chief executive officer of the Devil Island Project Inc.

“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,” Mr Englefield said.

“Every roadkill prevented is an animal saved, one less carcass to be collected or examined by volunteer wildlife carers or council staff, one less vehicle damaged or human injured or killed, and one less roadkill to upset tourists and locals.

“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.”

Currently, more than 2000 people have downloaded the app, with there being about 1,450 reports.

The Roadkill Reporter app can be downloaded for free on iPhone and Android phones, and data can be viewed at https://roadkillreporter.com.au/reports.

Caption: Researcher Bruce Englefield has developed an app that documents the number of roadkill across Australia.