Australian Bustard Decline (Kimberley)

To: "Lawrie Conole" <>, "birding aus" <>
Subject: Australian Bustard Decline (Kimberley)
From: "Philip A. Veerman" <>
Date: Mon, 12 Mar 2001 10:39:52 +1000
Hi Lawrie,
Of course it should come as no surprise that I agree with you (mostly).
It is a statement of the overly obvious that European-based changes are the most important pressures. You could have added collision with cars to the threats. However when those immense impacts, that bring populations of these fauna to dangerously low levels, are considered, it does not help that the few birds that do survive are at great danger from people (of any race) being encouraged to take two or so birds each year, especially if there are many people doing so. I am not dumb enough to imagine (or imply) that only aboriginal people hunt Bustards. I would also call it less than semi-traditional. (My being pedantic related to that I assume the intention of the original remark was that people be encouraged to target only two birds when presumably formerly they took more - because there were more.) Also having observed Bustards from a car, I imagine that hunting them from a car, with firearms would have to be dead easy. Given all the other recently-imposed pressures, sustained intense predation by people (of any race) could easily become the major immediate factor in the birds' decline and encouraging this is the aspect I was critical of).
-----Original Message-----
From: Lawrie Conole <>
To: Philip A. Veerman <>; Matthew Herring <>; birding aus <>
Date: Sunday, 11 March 2001 16:01
Subject: Re: [BIRDING-AUS] Australian Bustard Decline (Kimberley)

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.


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