On a recent afternoon in Sydney, a group of young students sat in a green chair at a small table outside the National Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre (NWRC), a large building in a quiet suburb.
They were joined by a few dozen staff members and volunteers.
As the sun set on the banks of the river and the birds began their nightly migrations to the sea, the students sat quietly in the shade, reading a book and sipping tea.
The students were working with the NT Bureau of Forestry (NTBFF), the NT Government’s wildlife rehabilitation service, on their first field trial.
“We’ve been trying to get the students involved in this work for almost 10 years, and we’ve been very lucky,” said Dr Sam Smith, the NWRC’s director.
It was a tough year for NT wildlife rehabilitators.
During the last census in 2013, NT wildlife rehabilitation was down by around 20 percent compared to 2012.
Despite this, NT Wildlife Rehabilitators Association (NTWARA) director Andrew Latham believes the NT is still in a strong position to help rehabilitate wildlife.
For the first time in the NT’s history, NTBFF has been able to work with NT Government-funded students, volunteers and the NT Public Transport Authority to train new rehabilitators, he said.
He said the NTBFS has been working with NTBDF to train a further 50 rehabilitators in a few weeks.
NTBFS is now the only NT rehabilitation service that has been fully funded by the NT government, allowing the NTBS to continue to provide training and support services, he added.
This work is being supported by the Australian Government, which has provided funding for NTBTF for a total of $1.7 million since its establishment in 2013.
Professor Latham said the focus of NTBF training is on rehabilitation of injured animals.
However, there are some wildlife rehabilitation programs that do not involve animals, such as a wildlife park in Tasmania that uses remote wildlife rehabilitation.
In the past, NTWildlife Rehabilitator’s training in the wild has included training to work on wild dogs, horses and other animals that are used for entertainment and sport, and teaching people how to rehabilitate the welfare of these animals.
NTBS chief executive Mike Dyson said there was also a significant increase in people wanting to work in the rehabilitation field, with more than 20,000 new recruits joining NTBS staff in 2017.
Mr Dyson also said that the NT Wildlife Recovery Centre (NTRC) had the capacity to rehabilitates between 40 to 70 animals per year.
Nationally, NTBs rehabilitation capacity has increased from about 6,000 animals per annum to nearly 15,000, he noted.
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