Introducing (more) large herbivores to Australia?

By , February 2, 2012 9:00 am

In a Comment in Nature: ‘Introduce large mammals and increase hunting pressure’, David Bowman is proposing a more holistic approach to managing Australia’s troubled ecosystem. He advocates introducing large mammals such as elephants, rhinoceros and even Komodo dragons to help consume flammable grasses and control feral-animal populations. At the same time, he recommends employing Aboriginal hunters who could help to control feral-animal populations and restore the traditional practice of patch burning.

AWS  believes this proposal is fundementally flawed. For one, it over looks that the Australian climate and hence the productivity of the environment is intrinsically one of boom and bust on a massive scale. How would he feed and water these large animals during the recurring busts? They would starve and trash the landscape as they starved. The impact of camels cattle and buffalo during droughts is already very damaging.

We are all in favour of more science to actively managing landscapes, and support for Aboriginal traditional practice and Aboriginal land managers to increase preferred species. How about more kangaroos to eat the grasses?  They don’t produce methane, are adapted to the consequences of climate variability by controlling their breeding, and they are already here.

New Scientist refers to AWS views. 

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