Camera Traps – September 2023 accrued 28-cassowaries, 81-dingoes and 550-feral pigs.  Against the cumulative monthly average, cassowary numbers fell by 74%, whilst dingoes rose by 198% and feral-pig numbers exploded by 372%.  Against September 2022, cassowary sightings were 51% fewer, dingo numbers soared by 476%, as did feral-pigs by a whopping 1,410%.

Image highlights from Camera Traps – September 2023

Cassowary capers …

Delilah taking an interest in the camera trap.

Daintree Dingoes …

In defence of family, including five pups, the male dingo stands down a threatening big boar.

The same male dingo as above, but with the tell-tale wound of a pig’s tusk just behind the front right leg and also on the righthand lower jaw.

The Voice!

Referendums occur much less frequently in Australia than blue moons, but they do offer the Australian people the rarest opportunity to exercise real and substantive power over nationhood.  On Saturday 14th October 2023, Australians will have their say in a referendum about whether to change the Constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing a body called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.

The Constitution is the supreme law of Australia, establishing the political structure as a federation under a constitutional monarchy and outlining both the powers and also the substantive separation of powers of the Australian Government’s three constituent parts, the executive, legislature and judiciary.  The High Court is responsible for the interpretation of the constitution and their decisions form the basis of Australian constitutional law, but when the 1996 Wik decision found that Native Title could also co-exist upon lands where exclusive possession had not been prescribed, federal parliamentary leadership disparaged this finding by asserting, as a matter of self-proclaimed fact, that the High Court had pushed the pendulum too far in the Aboriginal direction.

This directional distinction of race or culture clearly contrasts with the Constitution, derived from the Westminster system and drafted by representatives of the six self-governing British colonies in Australia that became States within the new Federation and whereas the British Government objected to some elements of the final draft, but finally enacted a slightly modified form as section 9 of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900, an act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, in the parlance of the aforementioned parliamentary leadership, was undeniably imposed onto Australian nationhood from an imperial British direction.

So, relative to our birth of nationhood in 1901, where do we now stand, constitutionally, as a free and independent nation in 2023?  Has Australia become any less ‘British’ and adapted traits of nationhood that the continental landscape would derive through a sustained occupancy and custodianship across the lands and waters that we love and call home?

I would certainly hope so!  Every Australian experience is memorised against the place and time in which it was experienced, so the preservation of the environment becomes necessary for the security of memories, particularly across generations.  For my own part and across the past three-and-a-half-decades, I have accumulated an ever-enriching treasury of memories within the Daintree World Heritage Rainforest, gleaning insight and understanding into the complex dynamics of the world’s oldest rainforest, so that I may better discharge custodial excellence.

I freely admit that my accrued knowledge and custodial expertise is trivialised against the custodial excellence amassed by the Kuku Yalanji over 3,000-generations. Rather than embracing this Kuku Yalanji custodial expertise within the self-distinguishing pride of nationhood, Daintree Rainforest ‘management’ is held under legislative constraint, as it clings to the flawed presumption that nature’s better interests are served by human exclusion and in the vacancy created by the forced eviction of Kuku Yalanji custodians, we now have an estimated 30,000 feral-pigs where there should be none!

On a continental scale, Australia’s custodial neglect has amassed an unacceptable proliferation of feral-pests and the undeniable shame of the world’s highest rate of mammal decline and extinction over the last one-hundred-and-fifty-years.  Against this outstanding state of environmental urgency, the country desperately needs to be driven in the Aboriginal direction and I would hope that the outcome of the 2023 referendum delivers a thunderous ‘YES’; both nationally and within the majority of the states, to specifically unshackle the federal parliament from its British imposed Constitutional constraint that currently denies law-making powers necessary for national environmental recovery and rehabilitation for the benefit all Australians.  

by Neil Hewett

Daintree Rainforest Foundation Ltd has been registered by the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission and successfully entered onto the Register of Environmental Organisations.  Donations made to the Daintree Rainforest Fund support the Daintree Rainforest community custodianship and are eligible for a tax deduction under the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997.

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