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Take a photo of roadkill for science

26 September 2019
Citizen scientists to document animals killed on the road
Bruce Englefield, a PhD student in Veterinary Science, has developed a new app that can photograph and document roadkill across Australia.
Photo of a kangaroo bouncing across a quiet country road in Australia

Motorists can accidentally hit wildlife that appear suddenly on the road. The new Roadkill Reporter app will help identity roadkill hotspots. Image credit: Pexels.

Australians are being urged to slow down, stop the car and take a photo of any dead animals they see on the road or by the side of the road, as part of a citizen science project documenting roadkill during the month of October. (Please take care on the roads, stay safe at all times.)

Roadkill impacts the Australian environment by wiping out more than four million mammals and six million birds, reptiles and other creatures a year. It can contribute to species such as koalas, wedge-tailed eagles and Tasmanian devils becoming extinct in the wild.  

“Vehicles are the new predator on the block,” said Bruce Englefield, a PhD student and researcher in the School of Veterinary Science at the University of Sydney. “Animals have no innate survival behaviour to protect themselves. Vehicles give little warning, travel at a speed unknown in any other predator and kill indiscriminately, a recipe for extinction.”

Cartoon image of a kangaroo face

Roadkill Reporter app is available now for iPhone and Android phones. 

Roadkill Reporter

The Roadkill Reporter app, developed by Mr Englefield, is designed to take a photograph of roadkill anywhere in Australia with a GPS-time-and-date-stamp. Users can then upload the image to a website. This will enable a reliable estimate of yearly Australian roadkill to be calculated and roadkill hotspots to be identified. The free app is available now for iPhone and Android phones.

“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 road-killed a possum on the way home,” said Mr Englefield, who is based in Tasmania. “Then when I started my research on roadkill rescue and how this affects the wildlife carers, I found there were no national data on roadkill numbers or even wildlife carers.

“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,” Mr Englefield said.

Photo of Bruce Englefield holding a Tasmanian devil

Bruce Englefield is a life-longer learner with a passion for conserving the environment and wildlife. 

Citizen science

Bruce Englefield, aged 76, is a former Tasmanian of the Year (2008), Australian of the Year Tasmania (2010) and Australian Tourism Small Business Champion (2010). He is also the founder and former CEO of the Devil Island Project Inc, a conservation project for Tasmanian devils. After a career in television, he returned to university at the age of 51, to obtain a Master of Science in animal behavior and training. He is now a PhD student and researcher at the University of Sydney.

“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.”

Get started 

If you'd like to be a citizen scientist, go ahead and download the Roadkill Reporter app now. It is free for iPhone and Android phones. Take photos of roadkill during the month of October, or get a headstart now. Please always be extra careful on the roads. 

Declaration: The Roadkill App was self-funded by Mr Bruce Englefield
Main image credit: road signs on highway/Shutterstock

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