Ken Henry is the founding chairman of a new organisation specialising in mobile wildlife hospitals alongside predator-proof sanctuaries to rescue wildlife and recover endangered species across Australia.
Wildlife Recovery Australia (WRA) is a joint venture between two not-for-profits; Byron Bay Wildlife Hospital Ltd (BBWH) and Odonata Foundation (Odonata).
“All Australians would have been shocked by scenes of our extraordinary wildlife suffering terrible trauma in the recent bushfires,” Henry said. “Regrettably, incidents like these are going to become more frequent. I know from my own experience of wildlife care and rehabilitation, including looking after some of our iconic wombats, how important it is to have expert veterinary care available in the right place at the right time. Wildlife Recovery Australia will make a very big difference.”
“We’re honoured that Dr. Henry has accepted his appointment as inaugural chairman,” Nigel Sharp, WRA Founding Director and Founder and Chair of Odonata, said.
“We will benefit greatly from his advice, mentorship, expertise and passion for research and education in conservation and biodiversity. His vast experience in public policy and economics are complemented by his passion for and interest in animal protection, making him an ideal person to chair our wildlife conservation organisation.”
WRA aims to realise a 10-year condition change through emergency response to rescue wildlife from immediate life-threatening situations, increase threatened species populations and genetic diversity and create networks of threatened species sanctuaries on farms and private land across Australia.
The announcement of Henry’s appointment follows the recent launch of Australia’s largest mobile wildlife hospital in Byron Bay, supported by a range of conservation agencies including the United Nations Development Program, WWF Australia and Wild Ark.
The mobile hospital is wholly owned by Byron Bay Wildlife Hospital and will facilitate immediate response to injured and traumatised native animals in a crisis such as bushfires, anywhere in Australia.
“There are only a handful of wildlife hospitals in Australia and the burden of helping injured wildlife falls upon local vets,” Stephen Van Mil, WRA Founding Director and Founder and CEO of Byron Bay Wildlife Hospital, said.
“While these vets willingly give their time freely every day, they often lack the expert skills, resources and facilities to meet the demand.”
“By combining mobile wildlife hospitals with sanctuaries, we provide a ready and responsive asset to support wildlife recovery in emergencies, a home base to train vets in wildlife recovery, and release animals into predator-proof environments for them to recover and build strength for eventual re-wilding.”
WRA will focus on replicating the mobile hospital program in Victoria and the ACT, with hopes of taking the model Australia-wide in the future.
“It’s a real privilege to have this opportunity to work with such a talented group of people who share a passion for our wildlife,” Henry said.