When I committed to a semester abroad in Western Australia, I thought I would be spending several months in the dry and desolate outback. However, when I arrived in Perth and began exploring the local environment, I realized that the southwest of WA is actually quite biodiverse! Having just returned from spending two weeks with the Department of Parks and Wildlife (DePAW) out in the Greater Kingston region, I can now say with confidence that Western Australia is one of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the entire world! From critically endangered woylies to tawny frogmouths to wild emus and brush-tailed possums, the southwest of Western Australia is truly the biological experience of a lifetime.
Looking back now, I feel so fortunate to have spent time in Manjimup. Many of the Australian animals listed as threatened, endangered, or even critically endangered on the IUCN Red List were present in abundance in this secluded stretch of protected forest. The experience I’ve gained in handling critically endangered animals has helped me to understand just how powerless certain species are to anthropogenic intervention such as habitat loss, introduced species and climate change. In addition, the passion shared by all members of the DPAW team taught me that every species, no matter how small or how scarce, has deep value and deserves the best possible chance of survival.
Andrew Orozco - University of Massachusetts - Amherst