Re: Secrecy of locations

Subject: Re: Secrecy of locations
From: Ian May <>
Date: Thu, 10 Jun 2010 12:33:47 +1000
Hi all

Sorry to have to disagree with Peter on this topic. Occasionally this thread is raised and previously I have resisted comment however there is another perspective to this discussion.

It has been my experience that people with untoward intentions toward our wildlife often have more information about their targets than we concerned people do. Unless an occurrence is a one off where absolute secrecy can be assured, the outcome from selective secrecy is more likely to be negative to the good intention of protection because secrecy provides a protected environment for poaching to flourish.

Contrary to the regularly held belief that secrecy helps protect our rarer birds, the best deterrent to poachers is public knowledge of locations. The knowledge generates interest from responsible people who have concern and interest about the welfare of the subject. An effective deterrent is provided from random visits by people with legitimate interest combined with follow up from authorities if a suspicious person is observed and reported.

An example is Grey Falcon breeding near Strzelecki Xing. For many years selective secrecy failed to help protect the birds. Sighting locations for Grey Falcon in the Far North of SA were kept quiet and every year most known nesting attempts failed. Reports from Cooper Basin oil workers and pastoralists about persons with roof top ladders were occasionally rumoured but frustratingly never anything much was reported that could be followed up. Often unidentified vehicle tracks could be found leading from the nest tree and it seemed that poachers alway knew the location of Grey Falcon nests before anyone else. In this case it was clear that intended secrecy was working against the welfare of the birds so a decision was made to reveal general locations where Grey Falcon could likely be observed and almost immediately we (SANPWS Far North) began to receive a useful flow of monitored information. And for years after that, these Grey Falcons bred successfully.

There are exceptions but generally, selective secrecy puts our rarest wildlife of interest at risk. Importantly however, if suspicious individuals are observed a thorough description with all relevant ID details should be reported to NPWS ASAP.

For what it is worth


Ian May
St Helens, Tasmania

Peter Waanders wrote:

Could people who might want to assist John please refrain from posting
specific locations for Scarlet-chested Parrot on birding-aus but rather send
it to him directly. According to inside information from SA NP&W there
appears to be a real risk of poaching. Whether this is justified or not,
it's probably better to be safe than sorry.


Peter Waanders

Southern Birding Services

PO Box 420
Waikerie, 5330 South Australia

mob.: 0409 763172

sat.: 0424 212889

SA Birding:

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