One comment from seven-year-old Matthew Faulkner was enough to bring his parents to tears as they walked through burnt and extremely dry wild animal habitat.
“They’re all dying aren’t they Dad?” he told his father, wildlife expert Tim Faulkner, as he held the bloated dead body of a brush-tailed rock wallaby during a trip with his family to Barrington Tops in the Hunter region of NSW.
Matthew wasn’t too far from the truth, according to Mr Faulkner, who told Yahoo News Australia these kind of scenes were becoming “the new normal”.
His two sons, Matthew and his older brother William, 9, were with him on Tuesday for what he believed was a grim and confronting peek into their future.
Matthew wore a disturbed expression in a photo of him holding the dead animal, which was taken after he scooped it into his arms, wanting “to look after it”.
“The wallaby looked like it just died, his mum and I were both crying. It was very moving in that regard,” Mr Faulkner said.
“Matty is really empathetic and felt like he needed to cradle and look after it.”
Trips to the area aren’t quite what they used to be for the boys, who can no longer swim or snorkel through the river and are instead faced with “muddy cesspools”.
While Mr Faulkner said it was positive for his children to witness and experience these changes for themselves, he was in no denial they would have a task on their hands down the line.
“This is the new normal, we’re gonna need little heroes in the future to step it up,” he said.
The current wildlife crisis is nothing new, according to Mr Faulkner, who said there was “real strife” in multiple animal populations long before the bushfires begun.
“More needs to be done. What’s been lost can not be brought back. It’s critically important we future-proof our environment,” he said.
“It doesn’t end when the bushfires end.”
Mr Faulkner is raising money through Aussie Ark to support threatened Australian species suffering in current conditions.
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