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Wildlife’s survival depends on us

By Kirsten Coates

My internet yoga teacher conducts her lessons with her dog Benji by her side. I have tried this too but my three-legged dog Lexi just thinks this is time to play and, needless to say, I end up banishing her to another room.

Although she is a calming presence in my life, I do often question the ethics of keeping a dog and while pondering this dilemma one day on the internet I came across the group Veterinarians for Climate Action (VfCA).

The first thing I noticed was their beautiful logo; a human footprint layered over bird, mammal and reptile footprints. How better to pictorially represent the intertwined nature of our relationship with all living beings on earth?

The RSPCA estimated the Black Saturday bushfires killed up to one million wild and domesticated animals. The bushfires of 2019-20 killed or displaced up to three billion animals.

The 10 scientists from the University of Sydney, University of New South Wales, University of Newcastle, Charles Sturt University, and BirdLife Australia who contributed to the majority of the work called it “one of the worst wildlife disasters in modern history”.

In these days of lockdown and isolation we really appreciate the presence not only of our pets but other wildlife that occasionally visit our gardens. What joy backyard magpies can bring, or a pair of Eastern Spinebills flitting around the garden, or watching a flock of black cockatoos flying overhead.

If we are lucky enough to live by open bushland we can see little swamp wallabies and evidence of wombat activity.

But we also have a responsibility to these animals to protect them and their habitat from destruction and in particular from devastating bushfires that are, it is now widely agreed upon, directly linked to climate change.

The VfCA encourages us to do three things. The first is to talk about climate change and overcome polarisation in the conversation.

Secondly, we can vote with our wallets: make every purchase – and our superannuation – matter and ensure we are not inadvertently supporting fossil fuel producing companies.

Finally, we need to elect politicians who support climate action and work actively in this space.

As the VfCA logo shows us, we share the planet with all lifeforms and yet it is our responsibility alone to create the change we all need to survive.


Photos by Richard Nunn, Yackandandah