Australian Bustard Decline

To: "Atriplex Services" <>, "" <>
Subject: Australian Bustard Decline
From: Goodfellow <>
Date: Wed, 14 Mar 2001 09:44:17 +0000
In Arnhemland both bustard and emu numbers are probably low but 
relatively stable as there are very few people and much inaccessible 
country.  For instance at Kudjekbinj there is no road access for up to 
five months of the year.  And apart from the main one in there are few 
tracks anywhere - two to fishing spots and one to a dangerous dreaming 
site which has been blocked for some years.  

However now a mining company is planning exploratory work which means 
running other tracks through and opening up more country.  And I'm told 
mining interests are keen to explore many other Aboriginal areas as well, 
aims that are supported by younger people who want all the things they 
see white folk have, among them schools and health facilities.  And as 
the Aboriginal population is burgeoning (one result of the loss of 
traditional ways of population control) there will be even more pressure. 
If guns and vehicles were banned then what about those who use those 
Aboriginal people who use them sensibly?   Speaking for my family, 
hunting allows Kunwinjku people to retain their links with the land, 
links they soon lose living in cities and eating supermarket meat. If 
anything Aboriginal people ought to be encouraged to stay on their land 
and to use their knowledge and resources sustainably as many still do.  

There are programs up here enabling Aboriginal people to collect various 
wildlife,ie turtles and Red-tailed Black Cockatoo (eggs and nestlings) 
one aim being to give them jobs, the other to ensure that habitats are 

I've seen how my relatives react when they meet (mainly American) 
birdwatchers that I take out, and discover these people are really very 
interested and even envious of their ties with wildlife and the land.  
Such interest has meant these Aboriginal people (and my son Peterson was 
one) no longer consider their traditions as 'rubbish'.  So I'm 
encouraging their involvement in this sort of tourism as much as I can. 

Incidentally I agree with Richard Johnson's comments on crops, habitat 
and grazing. 

I'm quite concerned as are others up here about the invasion of Gamba 
Grass.  This African species introduced by pastoralists is a bulky 
perennial which grows several metres high and will not only support fire 
hot enough to kill eucalypt saplings but is so prolific it smothers other 
plants. This plant has the potential to be as bad, if not worse than 


Denise Goodfellow  (Lawungkurr Maralngurra)

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