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REPONSE EXPORTATIONS DANS "THE AUSTRALIAN" 10/01/0

Le 1er site francophone sur l’Australie, le pays-continent Forums Les peuples aborigènes Aborigènes REPONSE EXPORTATIONS DANS "THE AUSTRALIAN" 10/01/0

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    Endangered species plan slammed

    By Roberta Mancuso

    January 10, 2005

    A GREEN lobby group today denounced calls by a north Queensland indigenous leader for Aborigines to be allowed to harvest endangered Australian species and sell them to private overseas collectors.

    Queensland Conservation Council co-ordinator Toby Hutcheon said the proposal was a « slap in the face » to Australia’s international reputation as a leader on conservation issues.

    Animals such as the highly-prized black cockatoo, frill-necked lizard and numbat, as well as meat, bone, feathers, teeth, ochre, fruit and flowers could be for sale under plans to capitalise on traditional indigenous hunting.

    North Queensland Lands Council chairman Terry O’Shane said the animals and plants would be harvested in native title areas, national parks, and where Aborigines had Indigenous Land Use Agreements (ILUAs).

    The money would then be poured back into struggling indigenous communities, he said.

    Some of the animals, which were often the target of smugglers, were expected to fetch thousands of dollars.

    But Mr Hutcheon said the proposal set a « very, very dangerous precedent » and doubted it would ever be allowed.

    « It would be a slap in face to our international reputation to allow it, » he said.

    Mr Hutcheon said apart from domestic legislation that would never allow the proposal to pass, Australia was a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

    « It would not be a very good look for Australia and don’t think it would be a very good look for indigenous communities, and would serve to actually discredit them, » Mr Hutcheon said.

    He did not believe the plan could bring sufficient funds to help indigenous communities living below the poverty line.

    But Mr O’Shane said Aborigines were more concerned with caring for the environment than making money.

    « Our focus has to be on how we care for country. If in that process we can make some good money, that’s really just an added bonus, » he said.

    Mr O’Shane said licences would be given to select members of tribal groups to harvest the animals, and arrangements would be made with scientists, universities or zoos to incubate and hatch them.

    None would be taken from the wild to be sold, he said.

    « White Australia has a very bad history in terms of looking after our environment. We need to take control of our environment ourselves and start to monitor these sorts of things, » Mr O’Shane said.

    It was unknown how much the sales could reap each year.

    Under native title agreements, Aborigines can hunt native species, including some endangered animals.

    Late last year the Federal Government limited the traditional harvest of turtles and dugong in Torres Strait after a report found the marine mammals were being killed at unsustainable levels.

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