The year in review

And so this is Christmas…or almost. I’m sitting at my desk with only a couple of hours to go before I pack up my lap top and head for home to put the decorations on the Christmas tree. I’ll be helped no doubt by Bailey the rescue puppy, we adopted last year, who loves nothing better than to stick his nose into every box we open…and play chase with the tinsel. Bailey McCrea – the rescue dog

Thinking back on IFAW’s work this year, a few things spring to mind as important steps towards a better future for animals.

April: we supported the listing of koalas as a threatened species because of widespread concerns about their decline in many areas. In the end only populations in NSW, Queensland and ACT were listed as vulnerable and sadly the listing in itself will do little to halt the encroachment of development into koala habitats and the road injuries, dog attacks and disease that follow. Much more remains to be done if koalas are going to be living in the wild throughout their range into the next decade.

June: I took part in two training workshops in our region to help Pacific Island law enforcement officers understand the threats from illegal trade in wildlife and how to spot smuggled species and smugglers. The workshops in the Cook Island and Vanuatu are very practical with everyone taking part in real world scenarios at the local airport and other situations – everyone, including me, learned a lot about how well coordinated and vigilant these officers need to be to spot and stop the poachers. We’ll be helping with more workshops in the region next year too.

Law enforcement training

National Whale Day, highlighted the good news that the populations of humpback whales that migrate up and down our east and west coasts are increasing, recovering from years of whaling in the past.  As a consequence, during whale migration season, we do need to be even more careful when out on the water in our boats, hence our campaign message ‘Watch Out Whales About’ and a reminder to keep watch, keep it down and keep your distance.

November: I’m so proud of the role we played in convincing the Australian Government to legally declare the new Commonwealth marine reserves. While legalisation has some weaknesses, most notably it still allows oil and gas exploitation, it is a great step forward for our threatened marine life.  In 2013, we will continue to press for industry to be kept out of vital whale hotspots.

December:  As the Japanese whaling fleet prepares to start their annual hunt all in the name of research, I’m very glad that IFAW played an important role in heading off a new proposal from South Korea to begin scientific whaling next year.

But, our Animal Action awards event was a high point of the year for me.  I continue to be inspired by amazing people who work tirelessly in the community to protect animals and this year our winners were a truly inspiring bunch – some who’d spent their entire lives trying to make things better for animals, young people who’d taken the time out from teenage preoccupations to campaign for orangutans and even dogs who’d saved human lives.  I can’t wait to hear about the stories of next year’s winners! Animal Action winners

So many of these animal heroes learn to love animals early in life, and that’s our hope for our teacher-led school programme – Animal Action Education – which we run every year in hundreds of schools around Australia. This year’s education pack – on elephants – will be available in January, ready for the new school year. Do contact us if you’d like to access it or think your kid’s school might be interested.

Thanks so much to those of you who supported IFAW’s campaigns this year – your help makes a big difference to our effectiveness. I hope you have a peaceful holiday time and I look forward to talking with you again in the New Year.

- IM

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