Man urges Aussies to take on 'horrendous' task to reduce roadkill

WARNING – DISTRESSING CONTENT: A man is urging Aussies to slow down and take photos of the roadkill they see.

Bruce Englefield, a 76-year-old originally from the UK, told Yahoo News Australia he was so horrified at the amount roadkill he saw in Australia, he developed an app to try and help.

The retiree-turned-PhD student created the Roadkill Reporter app while living in the “roadkill capital of the world” – Tasmania.

“The most important thing is to know where the roadkill is heaviest, and then take measures to try and reduce it,” he said.

Mr Englefield hopes people will come to see photographing roadkill as a challenge.

Citizen scientists are already sending images to the Roadkill Reporter app. Pictured left is a dead kangaroo with its joey lying beside it and on the right is another deceased marsupial.
Citizen scientists are already sending images to the Roadkill Reporter app. Source: Roadkill Reporter

“Instead of like Pokemon [Go] where you’re going around finding these things and there’s no real outcome to it, people who go out and record roadkill are doing very important work,” he said.

While Mr Englefield knows that looking at dead animals can be distressing, he hopes Australians will rise to the challenge for the greater good.

“I appreciate that any of the citizen scientists who go out and take photos of roadkill – it will have an affect on them,” he said.

“But that might be for the good because it highlights that there is a problem there and roadkill doesn’t just happen – it is caused.

“As the cause of it is humans, then humans have a moral obligation to clear up the mess they’re creating and hopefully with technology we can reduce the roadkill.”

Pictured on the left is a stock image of a koala on a road surrounded by skid marks. On the right is the Roadkill Reporter app logo.
Bruce Englefield hopes people will help wildlife by using his app. Source: Getty / Roadkill Reporter app

Developing the app as part of his studies at The University of Sydney has taken its toll on Mr Englefield.

“I was going out every morning at day break to record the roadkill and at the end of 128 days doing that every morning, I needed to be very tough,” he said.

“At the end of the time, I was getting to the point where I was thinking: ‘I just can’t do this anymore’.

“It’s just so distressing to go out and find five roadkills, including a wallaby with its head knocked off and the joey four metres up the road dead. It’s horrendous.”

Keeping motorists safe

At the app’s launch in Tasmania, Environment Minister Sussan Ley called it “remarkable” in bringing together road safety and science.

“I can see this building from this point on and actually giving people something to act on when they see roadkill,” she said.

Four people, including Environment Minister Sussan Ley and the app developer, stand in front of an old brick building and behind a microphone. There are signs advertising the app in the background.
Environment Minister Sussan Ley launches the Roadkill Reporter app. Source: Supplied

“Number one, please park your car very safely.

“But take the photo and send it in and that will help contribute to our knowledge and understanding of where roadkill is, how frequently we’re seeing the same types of animals in the same locations and how important it is to keep motorists safe.

“That is the most important thing when it comes to wildlife on our roads – to stay safe while you are driving.”

Bruce Englefield with grey hair and glasses poses with a Tasmanian devil in his arms. He developed the app to reduce roadkill.
Bruce Englefield with his favourite animal – the Tasmanian devil. Source: Bruce Englefield

Limited funds to help wildlife

Mr Englefield said with limited funds, governments and councils needed to be told where the wildlife carnage hotspots were so they can effectively distribute their money to help both animals and drivers.

People who contribute will help Mr Englefield’s work calculating Australia’s yearly roadkill numbers and identify wildlife corridors.

“Environment Minister Sussan Ley made the point to me that what government needs is reliable data,” he said.

“Once we’ve identified these hotspots, there is new technology coming online all the time that will help to mitigate roadkill.”

The free Roadkill Reporter app can be downloaded for iPhone and Android.

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