Fast Roads, Slow Deaths

Press Release

PRESS RELEASE August, 2016

Fast roads, slow deaths

Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year ‘Our impact’ category winner calls for dusk-to-dawn speed limits on Kangaroo Island to reduce wildlife road trauma.

Doug Gimesy, winner of this year’s ‘Our Impact’ category (image available on request) in the Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year awards, today called on the South Australian Road Safety Minister, Sustainability, Environment and Conservation Minister and the Kangaroo Island Council to help reduce the wildlife carnage by introducing dusk-to-dawn speed limits on key sections of Kangaroo Island’s 110km/h speed signed roads.

“It will be a great shame if tourists start to think Kangaroo Island doesn’t care about the welfare of kangaroos or other wildlife,” said Mr Gimesy. “But unless steps are taken to address the mounting wildlife road trauma, that’s what could happen”.

Mr Gimesy’s winning image titled ‘The Killing Field’, shows a dead kangaroo in front of a 110km/h speed sign at night, with the image of a car speeding past. It forms part of a photo-documentary series called ‘Fast roads, slow deaths’ that he has been building over the last two years.

The series aims to raise awareness around this issue of wildlife road trauma in general, and to help instigate speed limit reductions on Kangaroo Island. One other image from this series, which depicts the dedication and affection provided to an orphaned joey by members of the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Network, recently made the finals of The Big Picture competition in the USA (image attached).

Touted as one of Australia’s premier wildlife destinations, with over 190,000 visitors per year, conservation areas and national parks cover around one third of Kangaroo Island, however many of the major roads currently have inflexible speed limits of over 100km/h, some up to 110km/h.

“Like a lot of tourists, when I first visited Kangaroo Island my partner and I were amazed by the natural beauty, but we were also shocked by the amount of dead wildlife lining the roadsides,” said Mr Gimesy.

“What really upset us however was the discovery that a lot of the ‘road kill’ didn’t die instantly. Many animals go on to suffer slow, painful deaths on the side of the road or in the bush.”

“I remember driving late one evening and finding a kangaroo sitting half upright on the side of the road, panting in the cold night air. We pulled over to see if he was OK and found that one of his rear legs had been snapped clean through, pointing in the wrong direction, knee bone exposed. A small trail of blood marked the path where he had dragged himself from the initial impact. He was still alive.”

“Of course the trauma is not restricted to wildlife. The drivers and passengers in vehicles that hit these animals can be injured, and those that witness an impact, discover injured and dying animals or care for them, can also suffer.”

One example of the emotional impact of finding and then having to deal with a critically injured kangaroo on the side of the road was recently made into a short three minute video called ‘Roads of distress – Sandy’s story’ >> Embedded above and availabe at https://vimeo.com/178291616

“Of course there are many things that can be done to help reduce wildlife road trauma. Education is important, however the obvious, simple and most sensible first step must be to introduce dusk-to-dawn speed limit reductions,” said Mr Gimesy.

“Dusk to dawn speed limits have been introduced in other states such as Tasmania, so why not Kangaroo Island?”

“This is an ethical issue. By not actively addressing this problem, the State Government and local council are not doing everything they should to minimise wildlife suffering.”

 

Contact:

E: [email protected] M: 0417 554 515

 

About Doug Gimesy

Doug Gimesy is an award-winning conservation and wildlife photographer. Initially trained as a zoologist, Doug also holds Masters Degrees in Bioethics and the Environment.

In addition to his photography, Doug consults in science communication, lecturer on The Power of Imagery, is a Governor of the World Wide Fund for nature (WWF) in Australia and sits on the Monash Health Human Research Ethics Committee.