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WIRES offers free TREE TROFF® water drinkers for Wildlife to Eligible Hawkesbury Landholders

Nov 7, 2023

In the wake of the disastrous impact of the catastrophic 2019-2020 drought and bushfires, and as we head into another El Niño and a positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), we have a long, hot summer ahead. Now, WIRES is launching the Water for Wildlife Program for eligible Hawkesbury landowners.

The program aims to provide supplementary water for arboreal (tree-dwelling) wildlife by distributing TREE TROFF® water drinkers to eligible landholders free of charge. The Hawkesbury region, which faced severe destruction during the 2019 fires, is among the three priority areas for this initiative. The others are the Central and Mid-North Coasts.

WIRES Programme Lead Simon Fraser explained: “With a declared El Niño we’re already facing summer of heat waves and fires. So as part of our wonderful wildlife programme, we’re speeding up distribution of the TREE TROFF® water drinkers to support our precious wildlife.”

A TREE TROFF® water drinker free to eligible Hawkesbury landholders free of charge. Photo Credit: WIRES

 The 2019 Fires and Hawkesbury’s Response

The Hawkesbury region was one of the hardest-hit areas during the 2019 fires. Our rich biodiversity was severely impacted, with millions of hectares of habitat destroyed and billions of animals lost or displaced. The long-term impact of these losses on biodiversity is still being studied.

 Local members of Hawkesbury WIRES rose to the occasion at that time, launching a supplementary feeding and watering program on private property. The community banded together, constructing ground-based wildlife waterers to sustain the local fauna until the arrival of the much-awaited rains and the regrowth of vegetation.

“Those are fantastic, but they leave the tree-dwelling fauna or wildlife are vulnerable to predators when they come to the ground to drink,” said Simon. 

With the generous support of the global community, WWF Australia, Unilever, Reece, and Robert Frend from Wildsip Pty Ltd, who designed the TREE TROFF® drinkers, WIRES launched the Water for Wildlife project in 2020.  It was starting to place the arboreal waterers, specifically targeting koala habitats, which was then put on hold as the rains came and the region was devastated by floods. 

Now with the dire Summer forecast,  the Water for Wildlife Program has been revived. 

“It takes a lot of effort to distribute these items, a lot of effort,” Simon told the Hawkesbury Post. “So to do that effectively we’re targeting the areas that already have the largest number of applications including  North Coast, the Hunter Valley, Central Coast and into the Hawkesbury.

“I’ve probably got about 10 Water drinkers to bring to the Hawkesbury and I’d like to make that about 80,” he said.  

Origin of the Water for Wildlife Project

 In the aftermath of the fires, the Federal Government’s Expert Panel identified 119 animal species, including the koala, at the highest risk of potential extinction. To support these vulnerable wild populations, WIRES began working with Dr Valentina Mella, a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Sydney, in January 2020.

 Dr Mella’s research demonstrated that koalas and various other native animals, including sugar gliders, possums, and various birds, extensively used supplemental water throughout the year. Visits to water stations increased with higher temperatures and more days without rain, highlighting the necessity of regular access to free water for these species.

Image Credit: WIRES

 “When it is dry, especially after bushfires or during drought, and even more so where habitat has been cleared, native animals are at great risk of dehydration,” said Simon. 

“Animals that are on the ground can go to dams or cattle and horse troughs. But tree-dwelling animals are also vulnerable to predators as they go in search of water. The TREE TROFF® Water Drinkers provide safe access to water for koalas, gliders, lizards, possums, birds and other wildlife.”

How To Apply

Landholders interested in aiding the welfare of local wildlife are encouraged to apply for a Water for Wildlife drinker. To be eligible, you must own the land or have the authority to approve the installation, and you must agree to ongoing monitoring of the TREE TROFF® drinkers on the land. 

Each drinker should be at least 500 metres away from any other fresh water source.

 Successful applicants must sign an agreement confirming their commitment to promptly install the drinkers, provide post-installation pictures, undertake ongoing maintenance, and supply regular monitoring feedback. 

 You can apply here:  https://www.wires.org.au/wildlife-programs/water-for-wildlife.

 The Water for Wildlife program marks a significant step towards wildlife recovery. As the Hawkesbury region braces for a summer marked by potential heatwaves and bushfires, this initiative provides a beacon of hope for our wildlife.

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