The Tasmanian devil's hero

May 26, 2014, 10:14 IST | The Guide Team

Tim Faulkner is a young Australian wildlife conservationist who has been hailed for his award-winning work to protect the vulnerable Tasmanian devil

Tim Faulkner
Tim Faulkner with a Tasmanian devil

Q. What made you take up such an adventurous and possibly life-threatening passion?
A. My parents encouraged me a lot. They would take my brother and me to natural parks. Both of us were allowed in the bush, where we had a good exposure to animals. I was pretty lucky, because I started very young.

At the end of my schooling, I had an opportunity to do a work placement at anywhere I liked, any industry, and I chose to do it at a wildlife park. At the end of the term, they offered me a job on the weekends, and I started there. Six months later, I had a full-time job with Sydney Wildlife Park, where I worked for eight years, and then I moved to the Australian Reptile Park; I’ve been here for nine years now.

Tim Faulkner extracting venom from a snake
Tim Faulkner extracting venom from a snake

Q. You’ve spent time with a lot of different animals. Which, according to you, are the most unpredictable, and the most challenging to face?
A. Crocodiles are really dangerous, but they’re very predictable. Venomous snakes are far more unpredictable, because they’re so fast, especially Australian snakes. They’re not like cobras. They don’t stare enough at you and sort of give you a warning. They’re very dangerous, and you got to have your wits about you at all times.

Faulkner with a koala bear
Faulkner with a koala bear

Q. You started off as a zookeeper; today, you are regarded as an international conservationist. How did TV configure in your career?
A. I followed what I loved doing, and that was working with wildlife. The TV presenting just came about. My real jobs have been working in and with Australian wildlife at the Reptile Park. This is where I live and this is what I do. I’m a zoo manager, and I work with animals I love, but I manage a lot of people, and I manage a lot of business.

Here at the park, I work on different fields of animal projects, like Devil Ark. What we are doing with conserving the Tasmanian devil is very unique. It’s nice to be a part of this project. Also, to be a part of the venom programmes with snakes and spiders that help to save lives, is quite unique and very satisfying. Now, television has allowed me to have a bigger audience and connects more people.

Tim Faulkner believes crocodiles are dangerous but predictable

Q. You work closely with endangered species of Australia. What small steps can we take as conscious humans, as the clock ticks for these animals?
A. I think across the world, the important thing is that parents should encourage their kids, because several teachers have told me that kids are the ones that have the ability to take it on board.

Kids are the ones who in the future will have the ability to make the change. We must focus on them, just like how my parents encouraged me to get out and be in the bush or the outback amidst wildlife.

I hope that a lot of parents will watch this show and maybe, encourage their kids. By watching the show, they will learn about the unique wildlife in Australia or else simply enjoy watching animals. Either way, it will mean encouraging that interest.

Tim Faulkner with a turtle

Q. What advice do you have for people who wish to work in the field of animal conservation?
A. I think it’s a wonderful thing. What they’ve got to do is just work hard, follow their heart and keep in mind that they want to work with wildlife. It’s not one of the best paying jobs in the world, but it certainly can be rewarding.

Q. What are some of the lessons that you have learnt so far?
A. My biggest lesson has been to learn to respect animals. Some get bitten or hurt by animals because, I believe that respect falters or they get lazy or careless. But respecting and appreciating animals mean that I stay safe; it means they stay safe. To work with animals, it’s important to understand and respect them.

About the Tasmanian devil

>> The average lifespan of a Tasmanian devil in the wild is five years.

>> The Tasmanian devil is the world’s largest carnivorous marsupial that can extend up to 30 inches (76 cm) in length and weighs up to 26 pounds (12 kg).

>> Centuries ago, the Tasmanian devil even lived on mainland Australia. Incessant hunting pushed this marsupial carnivore to the southern island of Tasmania.

>> The devil is solitary and nocturnal, and lives in burrows, caves or hollow logs.

>> The Tasmanian devil faces Devil Facial Tumor Disease (DFTD), a fatal, contagious cancer that has over the past decade, diminished wild populations of this iconic animal from Australia.

Information courtesy: National Geographic official website

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