Daintree Rainforest Foundation, in conjunction with Daintree Rainforest P/L, has committed to a long term data collection process through the installation of a dozen camera traps placed strategically throughout the Daintree World Heritage Rainforest. The first month captured 29 cassowaries, 67 feral-pigs and 17 dingoes. Other species of organism have also been captured by the camera traps, like the Boyd’s Forest Dragon on the skinny tree above the cassowary’s head, as well as bandicoots, red-legged pademelons, tree-frogs, scrub-fowls, butcher-birds and even insects at night. It is the dynamic between the competing interests of cassowaries, feral-pigs and dingoes, that this project is particularly targeting.
Feral-pigs – Sus scrofa (Linnaeus, 1758), with their foul disturbances and pestilent proportions, despoil the intrinsic beauty of the living landscape. In their relentless search for worms, the breadth of their destruction to the integrity of the root-mat is horrendous. Their systematic dredging of ephemeral watercourses, as they harvest for stream inhabitants during non-flow periods, is as grotesque as the resultant plumes of dredging spoil flushed downstream onto the contiguous Great Barrier Reef. Likewise, the infanticide of defenceless young Fan Palms, killed for their highly-nutritive hearts, is a sight that evokes disgust and associated feelings of outrage. As the appetites of feral-pigs show no constraint, future generations of mature Fan Palms cannot succeed. The knowledge that such extinction will rob the ancient rainforest of its structural integrity, adds to the offensiveness of the degradation.
Over the passed couple of weeks, five cassowary chicks have been killed. Whilst many cassowary chicks succumb to dogs illegally released into World Heritage rainforest, none were captured by the cameras. However, 17 dingo images were recorded and it is very likely that they predate upon juvenile cassowaries. Dingoes have been in Australia for some 6,000-years, whilst feral-pigs have proliferated since sovereignty was established with the British Crown, but most abundantly with the forced removal of human inhabitants and the dedication of lands for conservation purposes. It was never the intention of the States or the Country to provide sanctuary for feral pests, but the legislative mechanisms provide inadvertent security. For the exceptional importance of both cassowaries and fan palms, the feral pigs must be eradicated.
At the end of the day, feral-pigs can only be eradicated by humans and those humans with the greatest investment in the integrity of the landscapes that feral-pigs occupy have been forcefully removed through racially-prejudiced legislation. Amending conservation legislation to restore traditional rights, within the framework of Native Title, is more than justified. It is within the collective memory of the traditional human inhabitants that the magnitude of feral-pig degradation can be recognised and the urgency of their eradication prioritised.