Wanted: A CIO to save Australia’s most endangered species

Australian Wildlife Conservancy is seeking a tech chief to turn back tide of extinction


A vacancy has arisen for what is claimed to be Australia’s first technology leadership role dedicated to the conservation of endangered wildlife.

Non-profit Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC), the world’s largest private owner of land for conservation, is seeking its inaugural chief information and technology officer.

“Traditional conservation strategies are not working – Australia has the worst mammal extinction rate in the world, with many other species disappearing rapidly," AWC chief executive Atticus Fleming told Computerworld.

"For AWC, this newly created role – the first senior technology role in Australia dedicated to conservation – is another step in building a dynamic new model for conservation. We believe effectively harnessing new and emerging technologies will be the difference between survival and extinction for some of Australia’s most endangered species,” he added.

As well as managing the organisation’s IT systems, a key part of the role will be to identify emerging technologies for use in land management and research efforts.

This includes “harnessing the potential associated with camera trap data collection and analysis, GPS telemetry, drones, remote sensing, artificial intelligence, thermal imagery, facial recognition, bioacoustics and more,” the job posting states.

“For example – how can drones, AI, thermal imaging etc improve our ability to measure threatened species populations, detect and count feral animals, manage infrastructure and respond to wildfire?”

The AWC manages 27 sanctuaries covering more than 4.6 million hectares in remote locations such as the Kimberley, the Top End, central Australia and Cape York, and the role requires establishing reliable communications links to staff and sensors in areas with poor connectivity.

The position supervises a systems administrator, an information management officer and a number of external vendors.

“This role requires hands-on attention to detail in the more traditional role of managing an ICT system which involves substantial data collection and analysis, as well as creativity in the quest for innovative technology-based solutions which will improve our ability to deliver effective conservation,” the job listing reads.

The AWC is working to protect the near-threatened Wyulda, found on its properties in the Kimberley. Photo: Australian Wildlife Conservancy
The AWC is working to protect the near-threatened Wyulda, found on its properties in the Kimberley. Photo: Australian Wildlife Conservancy

AWC’s estate protects a very high proportion of Australia’s biodiversity including some of the largest remaining populations of many endangered species.

The group is “turning back the tide of extinctions” including helping raise the population of termite-eating Numbats – or banded anteater – in Scotia, in the south-western plains of New South Wales, by 350 per cent in the last six years to more than 600; establishing a new population of Bilbies – sometimes known as rabbit-bandicoots – at Mt Gibson in southwestern Australia; and close to doubling the number of Purple-crowned Fairy-wrens in the central Kimberley.

Applications for the Perth-based role which reports to the chief financial officer will be accepted until March 2.