20,000 Animals will be Targeted in Aerial Culls Across Southern Arnhem Land
Traditional landowners set their sights on 20,000 feral animals in a bid to look after the future of Arneham Lands delicate ecosystems.
Surveys of the area have confirmed large numbers of feral buffalo, horses, cattle, donkeys and pigs are roaming the South East Arnhem Land Indigenous Protected Area, causing damage to important environmental and cultural sites. The traditional owners hope the population reduction targets can be achieved within the next few years.
The ABC reported an aerial shoot targeting buffalo and horses is expected to begin within the next few weeks, mainly in remote areas of the IPA which can't be accessed by vehicles.
At the same time, the NLC is working with traditional owners to allow contract musters to harvest the region's buffalo for export. after a year they have struggled to reach quota.
NLC regional program coordinator Mike Carmody said it was hoped the population reduction targets could be achieved within the next few years.
"That will still give an opportunity for mustering to still keep going and take a large number of animals off each year".
The aerial cull and proposed mustering are part of a three-year management plan to lessen the impact of feral animals on the local environment.
"The wetlands in that zone are particularly vulnerable, particularly to the impact of buffalo, and so there are areas that have been identified as high value in the wetlands," Mr Carmody said.
"And the problem isn't just feral animals, the feral animals then exacerbate things by introducing weeds, and it gives us a combination of issues which cause us grief in those special areas."
The plan has caught the attention of the Territory's commercial buffalo industry, which is struggling to fill export orders from Indonesia and Vietnam.
NT Buffalo Industry Council CEO Louise Bilato said with demand for buffalo currently outstripping supply, any plans to shoot the animals were concerning.
"The exporters are talking to as many producers as possible and are keen to get as many as they can," Ms Bilato said.
"Like last year, demand far exceeds supply, so part of the NT Buffalo Industry Council's desire is that we don't do the aerial culling where we can see musterers go, in consultation with traditional owners.
"We have exceptionally good quality animals in our traditional Aboriginal-owned lands, and we need to be able to encourage traditional owners to get some value out of those as well."