Many introductions were done by the "Acclimatisation
Societies". The movement was so strong that the Zoological
Society of Victoria changed its name to the Acclimatisation
Society of Victoria in 1861.
>From memory one of their motives was to do God's work by
helping species to succeed, I suppose this may have been a
development as one way of reconciling Christianity and
Darwin's work ('The Origin of Species' was first published
Also from memory, here in South-east Melbourne the City
Clerk of St. Kilda was a leading member of the Society and
promoted all sorts of weedy flora and fauna; and the fine
for killing a House Sparrow was 10 pounds - or was it
shillings (equivalent I guess to $50,000 or $5,000 now !!).
Personally I now think it is God's work to protect our
shared environment and resist the selfishness, greed and
aggression which would destroy it. Whoops ! Political!!
Anyhow I also found the following on the web which gives a
somewhat different account of the motives of the
"Members of the Acclimatisation Society of Victoria
.......... introduced European birds and animals to the
forest so that the 'bush solitudes' would be enlivened, and
'to give voice and life, activity and food, to where now ...
the almost unbroken repose of ages holds its sway.' Members
of the Society, including Professor McCoy, suggested that
there was a moral purpose to this activity, as well as an
aesthetic and economic purpose: homesick settlers, reminded
of 'home' by the singing of introduced birds, would be
inspired to poetry, the poor man's labour would be
'sweetened', and the drunkard would be softened and would
repent of his ways."
That does not account for the Asian birds that were also
introduced. There is more on McCoy see the special issues of
the Victorian Naturalist in 2001.
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