Australian Bustard Decline

Subject: Australian Bustard Decline
From: Michael Todd <>
Date: Sun, 11 Mar 2001 20:09:42 +1100
Hello Lawrie and others,

I'm afraid I have to disagree with you on this one. I spent almost 2 years on Cape York Peninsula with over 6 months living in an aboriginal community. Whether or not you call the hunting of bustards traditional hunting there can be little doubt that the hunting drastically reduces numbers. I only had one sighting, and one bundle of feathers (that I can remember off the top of my head) on Cape York outside Lakefield National Park. Meanwhile inside Lakefield National Park the bustards are quite common, certainly everywhere there is suitable habitat.

At Pormpuraaw I only saw bustards on one occasion- it seemed as though there had been a decline since the study of Garnett and Bredl (1982?). They are a very popular hunting bird on the cape (called minh ringkin by the Thaayorre at Pormpuraaw). The problem up on the Cape is that by using vehicles and guns bustards as well as Emus (also rare on the Cape) and other favoured birds are easier targets and more get taken as was suggested by Philip Veerman. As most of the hunting on Cape York is carried out by aboriginal people (after all they make up the vast majority of the Cape's population) the scenario where more can be taken because guns are used rather than spears is a reasonable one.

I'm sure you are right that habitat change etc. has had an impact on bustards in southern Australia and may have been the main factor but don't underestimate the impact of hunting.


Mick Todd

Michael Todd
Toronto, NSW, Australia
At 05:02 PM 11/03/01 +1100, you wrote:

Philip Veerman wrote:

>I suppose it could be pedantic but Matthew Herring wrote, in relation to
the Australian Bustard decline in the Kimberley, about an >aboriginal
>"but now only takes a few a year and encourages others to do the same."
>Surely it depends how many people he encourages to do this. I would not
like it if someone encouraged me to do this! There very >likely are more
people there than long ago. Also rifles and cars makes the hunting easier
than walking and spears.


Don't you think it's a bit rich casting aspersions on Aboriginal people
wishing to follow semi-traditional practices?  The reasons why bustards
might be in short supply are surely not due to the efforts of Aboriginal
hunting practices, even if they have gone beyond what might be called
subsistence hunting.  The real problems for bustards (and other animals) are
the endangering processes unleashed by European land (mis)management, feral
animals, climate change, etc.....  Why are people so averse to traditional
wildlife harvesting in Australia?  The main species harvested (Short-tailed
Shearwaters, kangaroos, Emus, etc.) are not declining as a consequence of
traditional harvesting, and I can't think of any other species that have
been brought to the status of 'endangered' by Aboriginal people in Australia
since 1788.  Maybe we should be applying pressure to the state and federal
conservation bureaucracies to better manage fauna and flora so that, amongst
other things, fauna populations should be able to be sustainably harvested
by indigenous Australians.


L A W R I E   C O N O L E
2/37 Myrnong Crescent, Ascot Vale, Victoria 3032 AUSTRALIA.
Phone AH (03) 9370 3928; BH (03) 9510 5750; Mobile (0419) 588 993.
E-mail: <>

Birding-Aus is on the Web at
To unsubscribe from this mailing list, send the message
"unsubscribe birding-aus" (no quotes, no Subject line)

Birding-Aus is on the Web at
To unsubscribe from this mailing list, send the message
"unsubscribe birding-aus" (no quotes, no Subject line)

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the birding-aus mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU