Bakers with a Cause: Threatened Species Day
To commemorate Threatened Species Day on 7th September the Threatened Species Commissioner (external link) encourages the general public to use their baking skills (or lack thereof) to produce glorious dessert creations to build awareness of Australian native threatened species.
For the second year in a row our staff got their bake on to showcase a diverse range of species (and some would say a diverse range of talent too) to demonstrate our commitment to the cause…plus we really, really like cake! And while it’s always a lot of fun to get together for a morning tea, there is a serious side to this event – there are sadly many species of flora and fauna in Australia which are in danger of extinction.
As 2019 is the International Year of Indigenous Languages (external link) the Commissioner added an extra challenge to the Bake Off this year, encouraging aspiring chefs to learn Indigenous names of their chosen species. This is important because while many Indigenous languages are still spoken here in Australia, around 90 per cent of them are considered endangered, and we have lost many already. Just like the threatened species we’ve decided to honour, many Indigenous Australian languages are also under threat.
It’s about more than just cake
“I got involved because it is a fun way to engage with a very serious issue. When I was choosing my species, I found it confronting to look at the list of threatened species, because it includes so many species I had never even heard of, let alone seen (or am likely to ever see). I don’t have a personal connection to Bornemissza’s Stag Beetle (Hoplogonus bornemisszai) but I wanted to show that it is not just the cute, fluffy or feathery species that are threatened and need our attention.” (Amelia, Marketing & Communications Coordinator)
“The bake-off was an opportunity to work on a project with my kids and talk to them about what it means for a species to be threatened, while having some fun and eating the offcuts. We researched different species of turtles that are threatened in our region and learnt about the beautiful Loggerhead sea turtle.” (Jennifer, Senior Marketing & Communications Manager)
“I was inspired by Indie the barking owl who I recently had the pleasure to meet at the Moonlit Sanctuary. It’s estimated that there are less than 50 breeding pairs of barking owls left in Victoria, with the species threatened by loss of habitat and secondary poisoning. We can help to protect barking owls by choosing recycled paper products and by using traps rather than poisons to deal with household rodents.” (Lauren, Books Development Editor)
“I chose the Pink Underwing Moth because I think people often don’t think about the fact that invertebrates need our help too. It is a very striking moth that is threatened due to loss of specific rainforest habitats. It’s larvae has incredible markings that look like a skull to scare off predators!” (Virginia, Digital Marketing & Engagement Specialist)
“I chose Tasmanian live-bearing seastars because I love all things marine but am conscious that sea creatures (especially small invertebrates) can sometimes receive less attention than other more visible threatened species. These tiny seastars are among the smallest and most unusual in the world: they are only around 15mm across, and they give birth to live young. Their simple shape also suited my limited baking skills, but still made for a fun and tasty bake!” (Eloise, Commissioning Editor)
“I found it a good way to start a conversation with my three-year-old about the fact that some animals are threatened and why it’s important to look after them. Plus, I LOVE the Netflix show Nailed it! about terrible home bakers and thought if they can do it, so can I.” (Anna, Senior Marketing Coordinator)
Winners are grinners
“I chose the giant pink slug after it was suggested by a colleague. I loved the idea of bringing to light a more unusual threatened species, particularly as invertebrates sometimes don’t get noticed in the same way vertebrate animals do. The giant pink slug was only recorded a few years ago but scientists are already realising how rare and at risk they are, particularly due to climate change, which is something I feel strongly about. Plus, that pink colour is incredible – I could have some fun with that icing!” (Meghan, Marketing Assistant)
We hope our talented staff have inspired you to get involved in the Threatened Species Bake Off (external link) and commemorate our incredible flora, fauna and fungi on Threatened Species Day. Submissions are open until 9 September 2019.