Camera Traps – December 2021

Daintree Rainforest Camera Traps – December 2021 – accrued 166-cassowary sightings, 13-dingoes and 255-feral pigs.  Against the cumulative monthly average, cassowary numbers rose by 101%, dingoes fell by 57% and feral-pig sightings increased by 104%.  Against December of the preceding year, cassowary numbers rose by 224%, dingoes plummeted by 88% and feral-pig sightings increased by 232%.

Image highlights from Camera Traps – December 2021

Camera Traps – December 2021 – Cassowary Capers

What’s at the centre of QLD’s environmental recovery?

Through the Gurra Gurra Framework 2020-2026, the Department of Environment and Science (DES) is seeking to improve environmental governance and management, by understanding that Country and People must be at the centre of all that it does.  Country, when spelled with a capital ‘C’, refers to the traditional lands of Traditional Custodians and People refers specifically to the traditional custodians of traditional lands.

Launched on 21 September 2021 to align with the Gurra Gurra Framework, the Wet Tropics Sustainable Tourism Plan (Plan) produced a statement of intent in the form of a visitor promise:

Visitors experience the Wet Tropics and its outstanding natural and cultural values through making genuine and mutually beneficial connections with nature, Rainforest Aboriginal Peoples and our inspiring storytellers, becoming advocates for the place and leaving enriched.

The Plan aims to deliver the visitor promise through six key goals:

  • Respect for Country and people
  • Rainforest Aboriginal tourism aspirations
  • Building awareness through consistent messaging and branding
  • Increased community involvement and advocacy
  • Well-trained, professional tour guides &
  • Collaborative visitor management

Presumably, this new Plan, with Country and People at the centre of environmental recovery, supersedes, or at the very least complements, the Wet Tropics Nature-based Tourism Strategy 2000 (WTNBTS), whose highest priority site for urgent review in the Daintree/Cape Tribulation Precinct was the Blue Hole, listed as B8 (below):

The Kuku Yalanji Bama, of this Daintree/Cape Tribulation Country, have made it abundantly clear that this is an important sacred site within the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area (WTWHA) and as of 2005 is a legislatively registered Sacred Site – EN:C53 under the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2003 – as well as a priority 1 site under WTNBTS review, since 2000.

Nevertheless, B8 is now deleted from the WTNBTS Sites Register, within this exciting new era of Country and People-centred environmental recovery, without any notification to the majority landholder within the precinct.  There may have been adequate consultation with Traditional Owners of the declared Sacred Site, but that does not remove the Sacred Site from the physical landscape; neither does it relieve Traditional Owner’s, nor freehold land-owners within the precinct, of their custodial responsibilities.  Nor does it relieve the Wet Tropics Management Authority (WTMA) of its management obligations within the WTWHA or the public-at-large from their collective duty-of-care under the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2003.

Not only was this Sacred Site officially struck from the WTNBTS Sites Register, the site also remains unmentioned within the recently released Plan.  It appears that this declared Aboriginal Sacred Site, deep within the very heart of World Heritage irreplaceability and suffering chronic degradation and desecration, is as officially unchallengeable as the 60,000-or-so feral-pigs taking devastating sanctuary beneath the environmental blanket of State ‘protection’.

Likewise, hundreds of people intrude into this declared Sacred Site on a daily basis, with the vast majority trespassing onto private-property within the WTWHA, whilst desecrating the sanctity of this treasured repository of Kuku Yalanji memory and degrading WH-values at their most irreplaceable.  With responsibility for protection and management of this WH-treasure, DES & WTMA are abundantly aware of the problem, but have done nothing to alleviate the site of its chronic degradation.

Long ago, Kuku Yalanji elders respectfully requested that the adjoining land-managers prohibit public intrusion, but only the land-manager on the northern side of Cooper Creek agreed and upheld that promise over the past 27-years, whilst the land-manager on the southern-side, or the State, has allowed unrestricted access to the public-at-large.

None of the twelve Daintree Rainforest camera traps have captured any sightings of People restored to Country, going about traditional custodianship.  They have, however, logged 3,005 feral-pig sightings over the past two-years and because of the sanctity of this site and the promise that was given in 1994, no Daintree Rainforest Camera Traps will ever be placed across the sacred site.  Nevertheless, a wildlife camera is not needed to know the intensity of trespass, desecration and damage and despite the official epiphany – that aspires for Country and People to be restored to the State’s centre of environmental recovery, the reality is, that feral-pigs and trespassing interlopers already occupy that provision.

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