Preparedness is the state of being ready for something to happen, especially for war or a disaster!!
So, are we ready for the unexpected or a disaster? Was Australia ready for the Black Summer Fires? How could anyone be prepared for that! It was estimated that the number of animals killed or displaced was close to three billion.
The presentation by Leanne Taylor from WIRES (via Zoom) was heartfelt and the emotion of the tragedy is still very raw. I do not think that one person at the conference was not moved by Leanne's presentation. However, this large-scale Emergency has taught them about preparedness, and Leanne shared those lessons with us. It has given WReNNZ clear areas we need to be thinking about for when we have our next disaster.
This year's conference was attended by approximately seventy participants, an increase on the 2019 conference numbers.
The venue at the Auckland Zoo, arranged by Mikaylie Wilson (Auckland Zoo clinical coordinator and WReNNZ committee member), was ideal. Providing ample room for speakers and seating with another area for refreshments and mingling. A conference like this brings like-minded people together where we speak a common language and are all working for the same goal: "rehabilitating wildlife." It is also a time to learn and to be wowed by absolute experts in their field.
We pulled in some fantastic speakers! With eighteen presentations, and a tour through the Auckland Zoo Veterinary Hospital, delegates were spoilt with learning opportunities!
Dr Stuart Hunter (Massey University pathologist) provided a graphic presentation on the trauma he sees in NZ wildlife. Stuart's was another presentation that left many horrified at the intentional trauma inflicted on innocent and often protected wildlife by humans; he also included some of his involvement with preparing evidence for court.
As always, Pauline Nijman (Wildbase Hospital and Recovery Supervisor) put on two excellent presentations. The topic "Preparing to be inundated" highlighted what it was like to be in a clinic when the North Island experienced one of the largest storm wrecks of prions ever recorded. As Pauline was driving to work, she looked up at the sky and said to herself, "What the F#@* is that???” Little did she know this moving cloud was prions that had been blown in from the ocean by a massive storm, and were going to be some of her next patients!
In the first seven days, they received 613 prions. The beach was littered with dying and dead prions; 1000 birds per kilometre. 130 out of the 613 were rehabilitated.
Once again, a presentation like this made us ask the question: "Are we prepared?"
A huge shout out to all our speakers who "without a doubt" inspired us, gave us some new ideas, gave us hope, gave us support, but most of all gave us their time. Without you, we could not have put on such an outstanding 2021 WReNNZ Wildlife Conference.
Rachel Avilla, Lynn Miller, Pauline Nijman, Christine Sumner, Dave Houston, Rosalie Goldsworthy (Committee member), Janelle Ward (Committee member), Daniela Najera, James Chatterton, Breeze Buchanan, Stuart Hunter, Leanne Taylor, Tania Mutiara, and Ian McLean. Click here for speaker abstracts.
To our supporters, we thank you for your ongoing support. We can't do what we do without you all.
To the committee:-
Brian Robertson, Janelle Ward, Mikaylie Wilson, Jordan Rennie, Claire Travers, Rosalie Goldsworthy, Lynn Miller, Suzy Cincone, Bev Wilkinson.
A huge thank you to the committee members who all have massive jobs, as vets, advisors, wildlife rehabilitators, law students, project managers, admin officers, yet find the time every month to commit to meetings and keep WReNNZ going. They continue to deliver expert advice to rehabilitators throughout the country, and they also annually put together an outstanding conference or workshop. In particular full credit goes to Mandy Robertson, Suzy Cincone and Mikaylie Wilson, who were legendary in getting this off the ground. You guys get "Rockstar" status.
Special thanks to Mandy Robertson (WReNNZ administrator). We honestly could not do this without you.
So let's get prepared because next year's workshop is going to be in Dunedin!!!!
Bev Wilkinson (Committee Member)