Photography of injured wildlife aims to upset

By Jared Richards 21 October 2016
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Doug Gimesy’s confronting photo series “Fast roads, slow deaths” forces attention on Kangaroo Island’s wildlife trauma.

DARK, EERIE AND CONFRONTING: Doug Gimesy’s “Fast roads, slow deaths” photo series is garnering international attention on the issue of car accidents in the wildlife-heavy Kangaroo Island. The series aims to capture not just roadside bodies, but the longer sustained trauma inflicted on kangaroos and other animals.

“When I first visited Kangaroo Island my partner and I were amazed by the natural beauty,” Doug says. “But we were also shocked by the amount of dead wildlife lining the roadsides… [And] what really upset us was the discovery that a lot of the ‘road kill’ doesn’t die instantly. Many animals go on to suffer slow, painful deaths on the side of the road or in the bush.”

Pictures such as ‘The Killing Field’, above, are difficult to look at, but Doug hopes that feeling of discomfort translates into policy: namely, that Kangaroo Island implements dusk-to-dawn speed limits on its 100km/h and 110km/h roads. Similar limits have been implemented across Tasmania and in accident-prone areas of Victoria.

caring for joeys

Kangaroo Island volunteers Sandy, Des and Pauline caring for joeys, left orphaned by vehicle strikes. (Image: Doug Gimesy)

Kangaroos and many other species are predominantly mobile at night; combined with low visibility and fast cars, collisions are common occurrences. Due to the nature of the collisions, numbers are scarce on Kangaroo Island collisions, but the national annual rate of kangaroos being killed by car strike is estimated to be in the tens of thousands. A recent government report notes that the majority of Kangaroo Island’s car crashes occur at speeds above 100km/h, but local government is resistant to lowering speed limits. In August, the federal member for Finniss Michael Pengilly told local newspaper The Islander that “Kangaroo Island residents do not need advice on how to deal with animals on the road at night”.

Taken over a two-year period, Doug’s “Fast roads, slow deaths” series has recently received international attention – a photo titled ‘Caring for Joey’ is currently being shown at Britain’s National Historical Museum in London as a finalist of their annual Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition. ‘The Killing Field’ also recently took out the ‘Our Impact’ category of our own 2016 Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year awards.

But for Doug, the biggest reward would be if his photos help kerb Kangaroo Island’s body count.

Doug has created an online petition to present to the South Australian government and Kangaroo Island council.