In the wake of the catastrophic drought and fires in 2019-2020, WIRES launched the WATER FOR WILDLIFE program to provide long-term access to supplementary water for arboreal wildlife impacted by emergency events.

Take-up of the drinkers was at its highest immediately following the 2020 bushfires and slowed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the exceptional rainfalls and floods of 2021 and 2022. 

However, in September 2023, an El Niño and a positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) was declared in Australia, with the Bureau of Meteorology saying that the period from September to March "could be significant in terms of heatwaves and fires".

WIRES resumed distribution of water drinkers in late 2023 and invites you, as a landholder interested in the welfare of local wildlife, to apply for a Water for Wildlife drinker. Apply Now

Eligibility Guidelines


Program Overview

Eight hundred drinkers are being provided free of charge to recipients in fire and drought-affected areas and areas where drinkers will support wildlife recovery or minimise risk for wildlife in future emergencies.

Apply Now

Why provide supplemental water?

During the Black Summer of 2019/2020, a long-term drought compounded by months of horrific fires tragically affected native wildlife. Millions of hectares of habitat were destroyed, nearly 3 billion animals were lost or displaced, and the long-term impact of these losses on biodiversity is still unclear.

According to the Bureau of Meteorology, 2019 was Australia's hottest year. The longer-term climate forecasts indicate that fire seasons will be longer and extreme weather events will continue to increase in frequency and intensity.

The Expert Panel appointed by the Federal Government assessed post-fires that 119 animal species, including the koala, were at the highest risk of potential extinction. Focusing on how best to support wild populations longer-term, WIRES began working with Dr Valentina Mella, Postdoctoral Research Associate—animal Behaviour and Conservation, School of Life and Environmental Science at The University of Sydney, in January 2020.

Dr Mella's past research found that koalas used supplemented water extensively throughout the year, even during cooler months. Time spent drinking varied with the season and depended on the days since the last rain and high temperature. The more days without rain, the more time koalas spent drinking. When the temperature was high, visits to water stations were more frequent, indicating that koalas need regular access to free water in hot weather. The arboreal drinkers were also regularly visited by other native animals, including sugar gliders, squirrel gliders, feathertail gliders, brushtail possums, tree frogs, geckos, pythons, a variety of birds, including eastern rosellas, musk lorikeets, noisy miners, galahs, cockatoos, butcher birds, kites, apostle birds and magpies.

Key partners proudly support the program, which is being delivered with the support of Robert Frend from Wildsip Pty Ltd, who designed and produced the TREE TROFF®️ drinkers.

To learn more, please review these frequently asked questions or email [email protected].

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