I recently drove with my partner from Brisbane to Birdsville and I was distressed to see the large numbers of kangaroos strewn across the roads after collisions with motor vehicles. I didn’t try to count them, but even if I had wanted to, I would not have known what to do next.

Well, just last week, 76-year-old University of Sydney PhD candidate, Bruce Englefield launched an app that will help drivers take the next step. It is called Roadkill Reporter, an app that works on both android and iPhone devices.

Bruce Englefield

Mr Englefield is urging Australian motorists to download the “Roadkill Reporter” app, slow down when they see roadkill, upload an image, and thereby become a part of a nationwide data collection project to determine roadkill hotspots. Mr Englefield hopes that his app will provide some baseline data to inform the implementation of measures to prevent roadkill.

Bruce Englefield is a former Tasmanian of the Year (2008), Australian of the Year Tasmania (2010) and Australian Tourism Small Business Champion (2010). He is also the founder and former CEO of the Devil Island Project Inc, a conservation project for Tasmanian devils. After a long career in television in the UK (he was the sound engineer for the Benny Hill show), he returned to university at the age of 51 to obtain a Master of Science in animal behaviour and training.

Mr Englefield told The Westender that he became interested in roadkill and roadkill rescue when running a wildlife park in Tasmania.

“When I started my research on roadkill rescue and how this affects the wildlife carers, I found there were no national data on roadkill numbers or even wildlife carers”, Mr Englefield said.

“By getting people involved it will highlight just how serious a problem roadkill is, not only for humans and the animals, but also for the environment and conservation,” Mr Englefield said.

Even on current estimates the numbers are alarming. Mr Englefield said that about four million mammals are killed on Australian roads each year. When combined with estimates for birds and reptiles the figure jumps to 10 million animals killed annually.

Mitigation measures vary in cost and effectiveness Mr Englefield said, from expensive wildlife tunnels and bridges such as can be found on some main roads within the Brisbane City Council area, to less expensive measures such as the virtual fence – a sound a flashing light system triggered by car headlights.

Changing driver behaviour is challenging Mr Englefield said, requiring people to voluntarily lower speeds and avoid driving between dawn and dusk. Mr Englefield said he has some hope that in the future the sort of technologies being developed for driver-less cars may be able to be used to slow cars down when the presence of animals is detected on the road. Modifying animal behaviour may also help, such as keeping animals away from road verges by clearing roadside vegetation or providing fencing.

However, the main culprit in the escalating carnage on our roads Mr Englefield said, is the displacement of wildlife as a result of land-clearing and habitat destruction for farming and human development – a significant issue in Queensland. Providing data to citizens and to their governments about roadkill hotspots may assist in informing decisions about future developments.

Download the free Roadkill Reporter app at these links. For Android and Apple iOS

Go to the website for realtime updates HERE