Here's some juicy food for thought - I hope it stirs up some
discussion without upsetting anyone.
There seems to be an increasing amount of discussion about the
sustainable utilisation of native fauna going on and it seems that
there is a lot of pressure to get this sort of thing up and running.
Of course there are already a few examples in place such as crocidile
farming, emu farming and taking of roos from the wild for human
consumption - this last of which is often touted as something which
should be expoited much more in order to save the country from the
destructive influences of sheep and cattle.
Croc farming does indeed seem to showing itself as sustainable
(the eggs come from the wild) and is tightly controlled by
Conservation Commission in the NT.
Emu farming seems to have moved to captive breeding and should
not imoact on wild populations too much.
Roo shooting probably does not have much impact on wild pops
inthe long term - at least compared to pre-European levels as numbers
have risen hugely in some species due to the increased availability
of waterholes put into place for domestic stock. There are a lot of
problems that I can forsee with a greatly expanded roo industry - for
eg what happens in years of drought when wild pops drop yet the
demand for meat is still there? Will the industry - with millions of
dollars and mnay jobs at stake suddenly back off for awhile? Its hard
to imagine. As for saving the country from introduced domestic
animals, how many people are really going to decrease their stocking
rates if they can sell their kangaroos? I somehow think roos will be
viewed as an additional source of income rather than an alternative.
oNE area where the proponets of wildlife use are saying there is
room for exploitation is in native birds, especially parrots. I
believe there was a good article on reasons against this view in a
Wingspan not long ago.
Anyway, if all the problems of sustainabiltiy could actually be
acheived - which seems in many cases difficult to envisage - and
ignoring any ethical dilemmas, I mean eating/using most of the
animals which are relevant here is equivalent on moral grounds of
eating sheep, chooks etc, The big question I have is whether this
will change society's outlook on wildlife and how?
There are two ways I can see it going:
1) People will see that the envirnment is a good
thing and that everything in it is connected and see it as something
to be protected and used sustainably for ever and that they wil learn
that it can't be exploited willy-nilly as, for eg, in drought years
you can't eat roos etc. This seems to be the atittude of a lot of
people who fish - they only take what they can use, they are careful
to consrve stocks and actually have an appreciation and respect for
the environment and the species they are exploiting. They see
themselves as just another species in the "web of life" (cliche,
cliche). This is pretty much the view of tradtional hunter-gatherer
societies who live in 'harmony' with the environment.
This way is being pushed very hard in some African countires with
things like sustainable hunting, both food and trophy, which
generates income for local people rather than giving the land over to
farming. Other good examples include collection of butterflies in
PNG from the rainforest for sale which gives the people an incentive
to save the forest.
2) The second view, and the one I think people will actually
take, is that all of the environment is to be plundered. Theat it is
full of things to be used for profit. Sure, manage sustainably those
things that we can use but who cares about the others? Hey, if
there's 10 million roos out there why not putin more waterholes and
have 20 million roos which can then graze the place to death. If
Yellow-footed Rock Wallabies are endangered, who cares?- it is just
another species of farm animal, people don't have much respect for
those. Let's turn the whole world into a great environment for those
species which we can use and let the rest fare as they can. In
essence, I think people will loose 'repsect' for the environment. I
think this could be particualry so for people in cities etc who are
so removed from any natural environments.
OK so I've polarised the debate along two extremes but I'm worried
that the final outcome will be closer to scenario two than one. What
do others think - I'm open to persuasion that'll restore my faith in