birding-aus Ornithological Racism

Subject: birding-aus Ornithological Racism
From: Harry Clarke <>
Date: Wed, 26 May 1999 14:28:58 +1000
Is dislike of sparrows, starlings and mynas an example of speciest racism?
Is a House sparrow less worthy of survival opportunity in Australia than a
Kookaburra? Why? Are those who disapprove of such species the Pauline
Hansons of the ornithological world? Where are the ornithological
multiculturalists? Are we more approving of greenfinches and goldfinches
(than of starlings or blackbirds) because of their colour?

Should we allow human migrants into Australia only if they agree to breed
more slowly than original resident Australians (=aboriginees) and if they
promise not to occupy niche habitats in Toorak or Double Bay? If removed
from their terrorist 'predators' they should be required to promise not to
devour us, steal our partners or top VCE or HSC exams?

Yeah, I don't like House sparrows as much as Kookaburras but I still do not
have the conviction to destroy blackbird nests that occur in profusion in
my backyard. Nor will I prick their eggs.  I am a confused
internationalist. My confusion is somewhat related to the following quote
from James Kohen's book on aboriginees and the Australian environment. 

"When we talk about conservation of the Australian environment, what are we
really talking about? Do we mean conserving the environment as it was in
1788 - an environment which was created as the result of interaction with
Aboriginal people - or do we mean conserving the environment as it develops
in the absence of regular, routine, low-intensity burning; or do we mean
conserving it in the absence of the dingo; or in the absence of foxes or
feral cats; or in the absence of the rabbit, the goat, the pig, the camel
and the donkey; or do we mean conserving it without any human impact
whatsoever - by excluding people altogether from National Parks?" (Kohen
(1995, p. 128)). 

I dunno.

Harry Clarke

School of Business
Faculty of Law and Management
Room 433, Donald Whitehead Building
La Trobe University, Bundoora, 3083. Australia.

Phone: 03-9479-1732
Fax: 03-9479-1654
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