Q&A with Samantha Wheeler for National Threatened Species Day
September 7 is National Threatened Species Day in Australia. The date commemorates the death of the last known thylacine (or Tasmanian tiger, Thylacinus cynocephalus) in 1936. Children's author Samantha Wheeler discusses endangered animals and what we can all do to help care for our native wildlife.
What is your favourite Aussie animal and why?
Oh wow. That’s a tricky one. Devils, wombats, echidnas? Too many beautiful animals to choose from. I’m going to say the pygmy possum, which lives in the Snowy Mountains and is so tiny you might mistake it for a mouse!
Why is it important to protect our native wildlife?
Nature and the ecosystem is so much smarter than we are. Everything is so intricately interwoven, we really have no idea. There is definitely no ‘I’ in nature. So caring for and protecting the habitat of our unique native wildlife, whether a bird, a koala, a species of frog… has implications for all the animals that live there. We can’t ever replace that diversity once we ruin it.
What can we do to look after native creatures in our area?
We tend to think we have to be famous or important, like politicians, to make a difference for the environment. But the truth is, it’s the every day things. Like taking care on the roads, reducing plastic use, keeping dogs and cats in at night. So, if you have birds or koalas or even Tassie devils in your area, making everyone else aware they need to be careful is often all it takes.
You write fabulous eco-adventures for children. What do you hope young readers will take away from your books?
I really hope that young readers will discover that, no matter how young or old, brave or shy, we can all make a difference. All my characters are flawed in some way, and yet they manage to help the wildlife that they love.
Can you recommend any organisations to follow who are doing great work for our Aussie wildlife?
Oh my goodness. So many. I admire the work of the Wilderness Society, Land for Wildlife, Ocean Clean Up, the Tangaroa Blue Foundation, Bush Heritage Australia, Koala Action Group, Aussie Ark, Bonorong Sanctuary, UnZoo, The Wombat Awareness Association, Brettacorp Inc and so many more.