Anyone who seriously doubts that Australian Bustards are declining in
numbers over most of their original range is out of touch with reality. To
wait until the decline can be proven by scientific method before taking
steps to preserve them would be closing the gate after the horse has
The "precautionary principle", in the case of threatened species, is
based on a commonsense approach to what is intuitively obvious to people in
the field, and initiates protection unless protection is proven to be
unnecessary.( As opposed to not having to prove that protection is
neccessary, which may only be achieved by the species becoming extinct)
Bustards are protected, except for "semi-traditional hunting" which may
or may not be a significant threat, but warrants invoking the precautionary
principle until shown not to be.
Implementing protection laws among "white-fella" hunters is probably
more difficult , but not impossible. I once worked in Canada. Road blocks
would check for illegally taken deer. The dollar fine was heavy, in addition
the car the shooter was driving and all its contents were confiscated on the
spot, later sold at auction. I never did find out how the driver and his
mates got home, but illegal shooting was uncommon to rare.
Carrot and stick signs on relevant Australian roads emphasising the
importance of not shooting Bustards, and of relevant fines, plus even a
nominal attempt at policing the laws, and significant (dare I say it)
mandatory sanctions/fines for offenders, might improve bustard prospects.
Education is of course, in the long run, the way to go. For you retired
teachers out there this could be a golden opportunity to utilise your
intelligence and skills! Go forth and educate!
From what Niven says, Darwin has reverted to the late 1960's when the
average male had absolutely no compunction about shooting Bustards. As with
crocodiles ( then almost exterminated and just protected) the nudge and wink
defence for shooting bustards was "self defence".
And there were local magistrates who agreed!
50km west of Sydney Harbour Bridge
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