Category: Recent Activities

Food unwrapped – UK Channel 4 – kangaroo meat

By , July 25, 2017 12:59 pm
On UK Channel 4 program ‘Food Unwrapped’, George Wilson presented perspectives on kangaroo meat and its attributes, plus the complexities of kangaroo management. The program featured kangaroos on the Federal Golf Course, interviews with local graziers and a scene at Bondi Beach of a barbeque featuring kangaroo meat.  Channel 4 is a publicly-owned and commercially-funded UK Public Service Broadcaster, with a statutory remit to deliver high-quality, innovative, alternative content that challenges the status quo. The video is at the link.

European Wildlife Bank

By , July 20, 2017 5:16 pm
The European Wildlife Bank (EWB) is a commercial and legal framework that could be a model for enabling finance and investment in conservation of threatened species. George Wilson met EWB in Amsterdam recently and learnt more about EWB. It is supported by the European Commission and other partners, especially the Dutch Postcode Lottery. It facilitates reintroduction of original native herbivores to rewilding areas. It keeps control over its reintroduction herds by making contracts with third parties, mostly local land managers/land owners. At the expiry of the contract, a proportion of the animals reintroduced are returned to the Bank to found new populations elsewhere or supplement existing populations at the same site. Species such as wild horses, European bison, chamois and ibex have been used in this way. It is early days but the intention is for surplus animals to be available on the market and for investors to receive returns based on the animal’s reproductive rate. The EWB could be regarded as a wildlife version of the rebranded NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust.

Maranoa Kangaroo Cooperative – financial support

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By , June 16, 2017 5:00 pm
Financial support for the Maranoa Kangaroo Growers and Harvesters Cooperative, one of George Wilson’s projects, has been announced by the Minister. Funding from the Farming Together program will enable regional cooperative kangaroo management to enhance the sustainability of grazing systems. It will enable employment of staff, identification of procedures for value-adding product, and verification of the contribution the project makes to biodiversity and carbon improvement. By improving the accuracy of description, quality and value of kangaroo products in central Qld, the Cooperative aims to enable the kangaroo industry to grow to be what it should be - a grass fed protein producer of low emission meat complementing the livestock industries and contributing to rural incomes.

Vulnerable animals and private land

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By , May 31, 2017 8:45 am
On 28 May 2017, ABC Radio National broadcast a segment by George Wilson on its Occam's Razor segment.  The program presents ideas that adhere to the notion  that if there are several possible solutions to a problem, the simplest alternative is probably the truth. George's outlined a way to address the rate at which vulnerable animals are disappearing from the landscape. His talk proposed trials in which market forces could have a role to play in conservation. If private landholders could take up wildlife property rights and responsibilities, would that make up for shortfalls in government funding? Link to ABC RN sound and transcript. The following diagrams depict before and after the adoption of the proposed changes. The location of Conservation Letters are at paper and supplementary information.

Why do we do scientific research ? What’s working and what needs work?

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By , May 10, 2017 10:44 am
ANU Vice Chancellor, Professor Brian Schmidt, a Nobel Prize winning astronomer and physicist, addresses a number of key issues confronting Australian scientists and researchers in an excellent broadcast on ABC Radio National. To what extent should science be directed and the outcomes tailored to meet the commercial needs of industry and business or are there better returns to be made from basic science where sometimes the greatest advances have been serendipitous? What should science be doing to better inform the development of public policy?

Food carbon footprint league table

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By , January 2, 2017 2:36 pm
Kangaroo does best of the red meats. On average, 244g of kangaroo meat is produced for every 1kg of greenhouse gas emissions, far more than the lowly 44 g of beef meat produced for every kg of pollution by cattle. The comparison comes from a RMIT dataset prepared for consumers and catering organisations to estimate the impact of their ingredients and menus. The authors have produced a list that illustrates how much – or how little – it takes for different foods to contribute a kilogram of greenhouse gas emissions. The paper provides 1718 global warming potential values for 168 varieties of fresh produce including vegetables, fruit, dairy products, staples, meat, chicken and fish.

Red Kangaroo die off

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By , December 16, 2016 12:49 pm
Hundreds of red kangaroos have been found dead in far western NSW Qld and SA. Despite good feed and plenty of water around, something, as yet undetected, is killing kangaroos and making the survivors very weak. The epidemic started late in September and is continuing in pockets. Retired Veterinary Officer Greg Curran in Broken Hill said "It was predictable. Similar outbreaks occurred in the 1998 and in 2010 after floods and good seasons.” He was receiving reports from people seeing five to ten bodies and some people seeing 40-50 dead animals. Biting insects have been implicated in the event but it is not clear whether its physical impact or a combination with disease. Previous epidemics have been associated midge plagues and viruses that caused blindness. AWS believes it is most regrettable that a coordinated response to collect specimens from recently dead and dying animals has not been implemented. Responsibility is not clearly allocated to either national authorities, State environment or agriculture departments, or the kangaroo industry. An interview George Wilson gave ABC Radio in Broken Hill can heard here, The outbreak is occurring in the Australian national emblem yet the response has been parsimonious. Sightings should be reported to Wildlife Health Australia.

Chinese forestry experts learn of Australian wildlife management

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By , December 9, 2016 1:59 pm


George Wilson provided lectures to a delegation of 18 forestry managers visiting Australia from the State Forestry Administration of PR China. Lectures covered an overview of wildlife protection legislative and operational activities, roles of Commonwealth and State law, kangaroo management including commercial use, threatened species management, Indigenous wildlife land management - needs and opportunities including carbon farming, tourism and bush tucker. “

Can private ownership of wildlife remedy shortfalls in government funding for conservation?

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By , October 17, 2016 9:43 am
We ask the question in a paper in Conservation Letters and propose trials to test it. Landholders, community groups, and investors would have a form of wildlife ownership by leasing threatened species on land outside protected areas. They would be able to acquire animals from locally overabundant populations, breed them, innovate and assist further colonization/range expansion while making a profit from the increase. They may choose to reinvest any profits in further conservation. The role of government would be to regulate, as is more appropriate in a mixed economy, rather than be the (sole) owner and manager of wildlife. We argue that that is more appropriate in a mixed economy and will enhance beneficial competition. The paper can be downloaded at Conservation Letters. The key points are in a media release from the Australian National University. Supplementary Information accompanying the paper on line nominates colonies and sites at which threatened species are breeding successfully. We suggest that where koalas, rock wallabies, nailtail wallabies, bandicoots, for example, are locally overabundant, they should become sources of further assisted colonisation, and that the private sector might be more inclined to participate if they had an addition commercial incentive. If you have comments, would like to participate in the trial, or visit sites of overabundance contact us 

IUCN World Conservation Congress

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By , September 16, 2016 4:28 pm
George Wilson was iucnone of over ten thousand participants including many Australians who attended the WCC in Hawaii in September. The overall theme was ‘Planet at the Crossroads’ building on the Paris Agreement on climate change, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the ‘Promise of Sydney’, Aichi Biodiversity Targets, the Earth Charter, and The Honolulu Challenge on Invasive Alien Species. During the 10 days of both the discussion sessions and then subsequent voting assembly. In particular the Congress discussed
  1. The nexus between biological and cultural diversity, and how their conservation and sustainability requires a combination of traditional wisdom and modern knowledge. • Indigenous rights to hunt clashed with animal rights opponents
  2.  The significance of the world’s ocean for biodiversity conservation and sustainable livelihoods. • Ocean conservation issues were prominent because the Congress was in middle of the Pacific Ocean. President Obama announced enlargement of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument to 2 million sq km
  3. The threats to biodiversity from habitat loss, climate change, invasive alien species, unsustainable exploitation, and pollution. • Invasive weeds, cats and mongooses huge problem in Hawaii
George had a particular focus on the Sustainable Use and Livelihoods Specialist Group (SULi) chaired by Rosie Cooney. He also met with the leader of the Great Elephant Census, Mike Chase and the funders of the project. The results were announced during the Congress. Melanie Edwards and he had reviewed aerial survey data from 10 regions of Africa. The results concluded there are some 370000 elephants in the 18 countries surveyed. A few populations had increased but most were suffering from poaching and competition from the expanding human population The resolutions passed by the General Assembly are at congress/assembly/motions The Congress concluding statement was the ‘The Hawaiʻi Commitments’. They propose solutions covering

1. Culture and conservation 2. Youth engagement 3. Sustainable food supply 4. Health of oceans 5. Wildlife trade 6. Engaging the private sector and 7. Climate change