To: "Michael J Hunter" <>, "Birding-aus" <>, <>
Subject: bustards
From: "Lawrie Conole" <>
Date: Sun, 11 Mar 2001 21:57:51 +1100
>       Birding-aus is a forum for debate about birds. Like everyone else,
> birdwatchers have, and are entitled to have, political views, but
> Birding-aus is not the place to stifle legitimate debate about birds by
> invoking aboriginal rights.  Political correctness and reality are
> things, and a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

I don't recall stifling the debate!  Since when does expressing an opinion
constitute stifling the debate?  There can't *be* a debate if only one
opinion is expressed, or allowed to be expressed.

My point remains - Australians are selectively squeamish about harvesting of
wildlife; this is irrefutable.  About half of the population of Melbourne is
hot to exterminate the Grey-headed Flying-foxes in the botanic gardens to
save some heritage trees.  Many of the same people have conniptions about
Aborigines harvesting FFs or other native cuddlies.

>      For instance, if an island colony of Roseate Terns was wiped out when
> all its eggs were collected by "semi-traditional" hunters in a helicopter,
> would this be OK?  Roseate Terns  are not common in Australian waters, one
> colony in the Gulf of Carpentaria comprises a big proportion of the
> Australian population. Or would it be politically incorrect to mention
> a thing?

You are the one who introduced the pejorative "political correctness" to
this thread; not me.  I just aired my views about the automatic denigration
of Aboriginal harvesting of wildlife that had come earlier.  I'm not in
favour of extermination by harvesting, but that doesn't rule out sustainable

>     There is no doubt that huge numbers of Bustards were wiped out by
> non-indiginous hunters using guns, but the keyword is "guns", Bustards are
> an easy target for anyone with a gun. Several hundred hunters of any
> description taking "only a few" each year in the Kimberly wouldn't leave
> many.  Is it acceptable to suggest that indiginous hunters leave some
> such as Roebuck Plains off limits to guns?

There are many off-limits areas already; it's not enough to preserve
something as stupid and tasty as a bustard.

>     If I was an indiginous Australian, I would be offended by the
> that Governments in effect farm Bustards and feed them out to be shot by
> semi-traditional hunters. I would like to think the aborigines could do it
> themselves.

Fine.  I don't mind who does it.  If bustards were managed for some level of
exploitation, there would almost certainly be more of them.  As it stands,
we 'manage' this and other species while pretending that harvesting doesn't

If bustards become extinct in Australia, it will not be because a few
hundred a year get nailed by various Aboriginal communities in far flung
northern bits of the country.  They've been comprehensively hammered by
white settlement everywhere south of the Tropic of Capricorn; and that's
more than 60% of the continent.  We're arguing about who gets to have a go
at what's left!

I make no apology for expressing a pro-indigenous viewpoint.  You can write
me off as a metropolitan, white, middle class, bleeding heart (a couple of
respondents have more or less already!) - but you'd be wrong on all counts.
I've seen this harvesting close up in numerous parts of Australia.  I'm
personally much more inclined to get my protein from the supermarket, but
I'm supportive of other people's desire to do things in more-or-less the old
way - with some kind of considered management plan in place.

Knowing full well that this debate will irritate the daylights out of most
B-A subscribers, I'm quite happy to take it offline if people want to
continue it.

Unrepentantly yours,


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.
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