April 27, 2020 – Australia is home to more than 300 native species, most of which aren't found anywhere else in the world.
The country is experiencing unprecedented wildfires, and estimates put the death toll at more than one billion animals. People around the world have banded together to address immediate needs, but wildlife populations face a long road to recovery.
That’s why Morris Animal Foundation is allocating $1 million for scientific research grants that will fund studies investigating the long-term effects of the bushfires on the region’s wildlife.
“While we recognize the urgent need for boots on the ground to save animal lives now, our role will be to research the impact of the fires to support restoration for years to come,” said Tiffany Grunert, President & CEO. “From population studies of land mammals to the impact downstream on marine wildlife, the need for scientific research to support Australia’s unique, precious wildlife is tremendous. We must do what we can to preserve what remains and restore what was lost.” This commitment nearly doubles the total amount the Foundation has devoted in grants to support landbased Australian wildlife. Since 1994, studies those grants made possible have protected and improved the lives of species such as kangaroos and Tasmanian devils.
Koalas living on Australia’s Kangaroo Island (KI) were already part of critical Foundation-funded research. Last summer, researchers at the University of Adelaide announced they had identified the last, large, isolated, healthy chlamydia-free population of koalas in the country on KI.
Unfortunately, it’s currently estimated that the fires have killed 80% of the Koalas on KI. “The loss of these koalas profoundly impacts their iconic species,” said Dr. Wayne Boardman, koala researcher and senior lecturer at the University of Adelaide’s School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences. “In the wake of the wildfires, Morris Animal Foundation-funded research is more important than ever. The Foundation’s commitment to supporting studies specific to the long-term effects of the wildfires is a critical step in helping koalas and all of Australia’s wildlife survive the devastation of these fires.”
Research proposals are being solicited and will be reviewed and approved by the Foundation’s recently formed Senior Scientific Advisory Board. Because it’s expected pressing research needs will likely exceed $1 million, the Foundation also is encouraging donations to its Wildlife Research program. This supports all the Foundation’s wildlife-based research, including grants directed to help Australian species.