Wednesday, January 18, 2017


I like living in the Top End of the NT.
It's still a rather wild and beautiful place. In Darwin you can see sights that you couldn't even imagine existing in other capital cities. Which other city in Australia could you get off a plane and see a wild dingo trotting through the scrub before you even exit the airport? Or attend a funeral service at which traditional aboriginal ceremony takes precedence over the a christian religious service? Which other cities would you have to avoid flooded urban creeks, not so much for the danger of being washed away but because of the likelihood of a crocodile snatching you from where you stand!

There are all kinds of interesting and wonderful aspects to living in Darwin in the tropical north, one of them I am not too keen on is the wasteful slaughter of wildlife.

As a bird lover I feel spoiled living in Darwin. The variety of species right here in the city still blows me away. Even sitting at my front porch I am likely to see three species of finch while I sip my morning coffee. There are Curlews and Blue winged kookaburras, all kinds of birds of prey, birds which in the state of my birth I would have considered exotic. 

A trio of geese taking a spell in the park across the road from where I live
One species we have which is quite unusual is the Magpie goose. They are a goose but quite a primitive looking species. They have some fascinating social habits as part of their breeding cycle, one male often cares for two females. They have a very pretty black and white plumage, long legs and a very peculiar looking head, which has a bump at the top that grows larger with age (a very odd looking thing).

Magpie goose is a favorite food source for Aboriginal people and is also popularly taken by non indigenous hunters. This time of year (The wet season). At this time of year some people get very excited to have the opportunity to eat fresh goose. On more than one occasion over the past couple of weeks I have seen people sitting by the side of the road plucking geese, one woman was even sitting at a bus stop, surrounded by a pile of feathers, plucking a goose as she waited for the bus! That was an odd sight.

Ironically the geese migrate into town during hunting season. I wonder if this is because they know there is no hunting permitted within town borders.

Killed geese left to rot next to rubbish dumped outside the tip
I appreciate that it is a game bird and it is possible to manage a sustainable harvest of birds from year to year but it breaks my heart to see the way they are treated as a purchasable commodity. There are places around Darwin you can go to buy dead geese, I have even been asked by people who live in Arnhem Land, to purchase geese from someone in Darwin! 

Worse than the buying and selling of this species as food is the number of dead geese that appear, shoved into rubbish bins dumped in bushland or even left by the side of the road! White hunters prefer the softer fleshy meat from the breast of the bird so they cut them off and leave the rest to rot! Sometimes I find whole birds dumped probably because the hunter had taken more than they needed and had no means of cooking or refrigerating the meat. Either way I find it a horrible part of life in Darwin and a disgusting abuse of a native species.

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