George Wilson contributes chapter on native animals as food producers in a book published this week by Springer. A promotional free preview of the entire Book Food Security in Australia, edited by Q. Farmar-Bowers, J. Millar, and V. Higgins is available
The chapter describes how few native animals, other than fish and crustaceans, are used in food production by the humans who recently arrived in Australia. Even Aboriginal Australians have now become reliant on introduced species which evolved elsewhere. In part, this is due to cultural dominance, first of the British and then other western perspectives in last 200 years. It is also because introduced species generally have higher production rates following centuries of agricultural selection and recently, energy-intensive farming practices. But it need not always be that exotic species are superior, particularly in the context of climate change. Replacing cattle and sheep on the rangelands with well-adapted species such as kangaroos and making greater use of them just as Aborigines did for 40,000 years, is a prospect worthy of further investigation.