Sessional Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development Written Submissions Received Volume 2 Issues associated with the progressive entry into the Northern Territory of Cane Toads October 2003
Tabled Paper 1123
Tabled Papers for 9th Assembly 2001 - 2005; Tabled Papers; ParliamentNT
Tabled by Delia Lawrie
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Written Submissions Environment Australia Part I Volume 2 Cane Toad Inquiry Report 107 EA is of the view that a substantial decline in goanna or turtle populations would have a significant impact on the local economy of Aboriginal communities within Kakadu and elsewhere in the Northern Territory, as both are important traditional food sources. Traditional owners in Kakadu National Park have expressed worries about the potential decline in goanna, snake, turtle, freshwater crocodile and barramundi populations, amongst other animals. These animals have a central role in Aboriginal culture and kinship systems, and many Aboriginal people feel strongly affiliated to these animals. Substantial declines in these species would cause grief, exacerbate Aboriginal peoples worries about the health of their country and in time may lead to loss of knowledge about the species and their ecological and cultural significance. Recent visitor surveys commissioned by EA in Kakadu National Park have indicated that one of the main reasons that tourists visit the park is to see wildlife, including crocodiles and goannas. A decline in visitors perceptions of wildlife in Kakadu and elsewhere in the Top End could lead to decreased visitor satisfaction, although much of the wildlife is not readily visible to the casual visitor. IDENTIFYING THE CURRENT LEVEL OF UNDERSTANDING CONCERNING CANE TOADS TO DATE AND ASSESSING THE NEED FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION AND AWARENESS PROGRAMS In Kakadu, EA found that before cane toads arrived, many but not all residents had some awareness of the existence and likely arrival of cane toads, and that they contain toxin that is potentially harmful to humans, domestic pets and other animals. The level of awareness appeared to be lower amongst people with limited English literacy skills, and consequently EA prepared a picture booklet about cane toads and distributed it to Aboriginal residents in Kakadu. (A copy of this booklet has been provided to the Inquiry.) In 1998/99 The NSW Big Scrub Environment Centre Inc undertook a Cane Toad Control and Public Education Project that was funded through the Landcare program of the Natural Heritage Trust. The project focused on educating the NSW North Coast community about cane toads. EA suggests that it would be useful to conduct an initial education program, particularly in Aboriginal communities across the Top End, to minimise the risk of children or adults suffering harm from contact with cane toads. There will be a need for continuing education program to encourage people not to transport cane toads to areas which have not yet been reached by toads, and especially to areas that would otherwise remain free of cane toads, such as offshore islands and any other areas that can be isolated from the spread of toads. Public education methods that should be considered include picture booklets, posters, videos, television advertisements and documentaries. IDENTIFYING WAYS TO MANAGE THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF CANE TOADS IN THE NORTHERN TERRITORY Broadly, EA considers that the main ways to manage the environmental impacts of cane toads are, in priority order, to: 1. identify one or more biological controls to reduce cane toad populations;