Landholders around Australia are encouraged to apply for free arboreal water drinkers to help wildlife in drought, bushfire and critical refuge areas.
The WIRES $1 million Water for Wildlife program began as an unlikely partnership between a Gunnedah farmer Robert Frend and University of Sydney Post-Doctoral Research Associate in animal behaviour and conservation Dr Valentina Mella.
Mr Frend was determined to help the koala population on his farming property and began working on a tree drinker to supply much needed water during the long and ongoing drought prior to the Black Summer bushfires.
His work coincided with research being done by the University of Sydney that found that koalas require supplemented water extensively throughout the year.
Dr Mella said the situation becomes more frequent when extreme weather events such as drought dramatically reduce leaf water content, potentially leading to large-scale mortality due to dehydration.
"Our results suggest that future changes in rainfall regimes and temperature in Australia have the potential to critically affect koala populations," she said.
"The more days without rain, the more time koalas spent drinking.
"Our drinker cam footage showed that during hotter weather, visits to water stations were also more frequent, indicating that koalas needed regular access to water."
The collaboration between the semi-retired Aussie farmer and Italian-born Sydney researcher has not only resulted in an ongoing friendship, it also led to the fine tuning of Mr Frend's design and the creation of the TREE TROFF arboreal drinker.
The arboreal drinkers are designed to provide for an extensive range of native animals including sugar gliders, squirrel gliders, feathertail gliders, brushtail possums, tree frogs, geckos, pythons and a variety of birds including eastern rosellas, musk lorikeets, noisy miners, galahs, cockatoos, butcher birds, kites, apostlebirds and magpies.
WWF-Australia is proudly supporting the project along with The Reece Group which has donated many of the drinker's key components.
WIRES is currently coordinating the distribution and installation instructions for the drinkers.
Private and public landowners can apply for the drinkers which will be provided free of charge to the most affected drought and bushfire impacted areas.
For more information and to how apply for a drinker visit: https://www.wires.org.au/water-for-wildlife.