Advertisement

Human Ecology

, Volume 39, Issue 2, pp 155–164 | Cite as

Turning Pests into Profits: Introduced Buffalo Provide Multiple Benefits to Indigenous People of Northern Australia

  • Neil CollierEmail author
  • Beau J. Austin
  • Corey J. A. Bradshaw
  • Clive R. McMahon
Article

Abstract

Introduced species are a major driver of negative ecological change, but some introduced species can potentially offer positive benefits to society. Asian swamp buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) were introduced to the northern Australian mainland in 1827 and have since become a serious pest. However, buffalo have also supported various profitable industries, including harvesting for hides, meat, and live export. We investigate an indigenous wildlife-based enterprise that harvests wild buffalo from indigenous-held lands in remote northern Australia. We used ecological modelling and social research techniques to quantify the buffalo dynamics and to examine their contributions to sustainable livelihoods in a remote Aboriginal community. Results suggest that the current harvest rate will not drive the species to extinction and it is thus unlikely that the population size of buffalo will be reduced enough to alleviate ecological damage. This enterprise is profitable and provides regular royalty payments to traditional land owners and wage income for employees, along with several additional non-financial capital assets. We demonstrate that the commercial exploitation of introduced species can provide additional or alternative sources of protein and income to promote economic development for indigenous people. This type of enterprise could be expanded to more communities using harvest rates above maximum sustainable yield to provide greater positive social and ecological outcomes for indigenous communities.

Keywords

Feral introduced species Asian swamp buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) Sustainable wildlife harvest Economic development Australia 

Notes

Acknowledgements

Research was funded by Australian Research Council Linkage Project grants LP0669303 and LP0669497. We thank the Gulin Gulin Buffalo Company for their extensive cooperation. CRM and NC conceived the paper; CRM and BJA collected the data; NC, CRM, BJA, and CJAB analyzed the data and built the models. BJA collected and analysed the sustainable livelihoods data. All authors contributed to the writing of the manuscript.

References

  1. Albrecht, G. A., McMahon, C. R., Bowman, D. M. J. S., and Bradshaw, C. J. A. (2009). Convergence of culture, ecology and ethics: management of feral swamp buffalo in northern Australia. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 22: 361–378.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Altman, J. C. (1987). Hunter-gatherers today: an aboriginal economy in Northern Australia. Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies, Canberra, p. 251.Google Scholar
  3. Altman, J.C. (2006). ‘In Search of an Outstations Policy for Indigenous Australians’, CAEPR Working Paper No. 34, Centre for Aboriginal Economic and Policy Research, Australian National University: Canberra.Google Scholar
  4. Angrosino, M. (2007). Doing Ethnographic and Observational Research. Sage Publications, London, p. 128.Google Scholar
  5. Bayliss, P., and Yeomans, K. M. (1989). Distribution and abundance of feral livestock in the Top End of the Northern Territory (1985-86), and their relation to population control. Australian Wildlife Research 16(6): 651–676.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bongaarts, J. (2009). Human population growth and the demographic transition. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences 364(1532): 2985–2990.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Boulton, W. J., and Freeland, W. J. (1991). Models for the control of feral water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) using constant levels of offtake and effort. Wildlife Research 18(1): 63–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bowman, D. M. J. S., Reilly, J. E., Boggs, G. S., Lehmann, C. E. R., and Prior, L. D. (2008). Do feral buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) explain the increase of woody cover in savannas of Kakadu National Park, Australia? Journal of Biogeography 35(11): 1976–1988.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bowman, D. M. J. S., Murphy, B., and McMahon, C. R. (2010). Using carbon isotope analysis of the diet of two introduced Australian megaherbivores to understand Pleistocene megafaunal extinctions. Journal of Biogeography 37(3): 499–505.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bradshaw, C. J. A., and Brook, B. W. (2007). Ecological-economic models of sustainable harvest for an endangered but exotic megaherbivore in northern Australia. Natural Resource Modeling 20(1): 129–156.Google Scholar
  11. Bradshaw, C. J. A., Field, I. C., Bowman, D. M. J. S., Haynes, C., and Brook, B. W. (2007). Current and future threats from non-indigenous animal species in northern Australia: a spotlight on World Heritage Area Kakadu National Park. Wildlife Research 34(6): 419–436.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Bradshaw, C. J. A., Brook, B. W., Peh, K. S. H., and Sodhi, N. S. (2009a). Flooding Policy Makers with Evidence to Save Forests. AMBIO 38(2): 125–126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Bradshaw, C. J. A., Sodhi, N. S., and Brook, B. W. (2009b). Tropical turmoil: a biodiversity tragedy in progress. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 7(2): 79–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Braithwaite, R. W., Dudzinski, M. L., Ridpath, M. G., and Parker, B. S. (1984). The impact of water buffalo on the monsoon forest ecosystem in Kakadu National Park. Australian Journal of Ecology 9(4): 309–322.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Brook, B. W., Sodhi, N. S., and Bradshaw, C. J. A. (2008). Synergies among extinction drivers under global change. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 23(8): 453–460.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Brook, B. W., Bowman, D. M. J. S., Bradshaw, C. J. A., Campbell, B. M., and Whitehead, P. J. (2006). Managing an endangered Asian bovid in an Australian national park: the role and limitations of ecological economic models in decision making. Environmental Management 38(3): 463–469.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Caughley, G. (1977). Analysis of vertebrate populations. John Wiley and Sons, London, p. 234.Google Scholar
  18. Cochrane, K. L., and Doulman, D. J. (2005). The rising tide of fisheries instruments and the struggle to keep afloat: One contribution of 15 to a theme issue 'Fisheries: a future?'. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society London, B 360(1453): 77–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Costanza, R., and Voinov, A. (2001). Modeling ecological and economic systems with STELLA: Part III. Ecological Modelling 143(1–2): 1–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Cousins, D. V., and Roberts, J. L. (2001). Australia's campaign to eradicate bovine tuberculosis: the battle for freedom and beyond. Tuberculosis 81(1–2): 5–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Dillon, M. C., and Westbury, N. D. (2007). Beyond humbug: transforming government engagement with indigenous Australia. Seaview Press, West Lakes, South Australia.Google Scholar
  22. du Toit, J. T. (2002). Wildlife harvesting guidelines for community-based wildlife management: a southern African perspective. Biodiversity and Conservation 11(8): 1403–1416.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. FaHCSIA (2009). Closing the Gap On Indigenous Disadvantage: the Challenge for Australia. Canberra: Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Australia, p. 40.Google Scholar
  24. Foley, J. A., DeFries, R., Asner, G. P., Barford, C., Bonan, G., Carpenter, S. R., Chapin, F. S., Coe, M. T., Daily, G. C., Gibbs, H. K., Helkowski, J. H., Holloway, T., Howard, E. A., Kucharik, C. J., Monfreda, C., Patz, J. A., Prentice, I. C., Ramankutty, N., and Snyder, P. K. (2005). Global consequences of land use. Science 309(5734): 570–574.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Ford, B. D. (1978). Liveweight changes of swamp buffaloes and cattle in northern Australia. University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, p. 73.Google Scholar
  26. Ford B. D. (1982) Productivity and management of the water buffalo in Australia. Darwin Northern territory Department of Primary Production, Division of Agriculture and Stock. Report nr 61., pp.44Google Scholar
  27. Fordham, D. A., Georges, A., and Brook, B. W. (2007). Demographic response of snake-necked turtles correlates with indigenous harvest and feral pig predation in tropical northern Australia. Journal of Animal Ecology 76(6): 1231–1243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Forner, J. (2006). The globalization of the didjeridu and the implications for small scale community based producers in remote northern Australia International. International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability 2: 137–148.Google Scholar
  29. Freeland, W. J., and Boulton, W. J. (1990). Feral water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) in the major floodplains of the top end, Northern Territory, Australia: population growth and the brucellosis and tuberculosis eradication campaign. Australian Wildlife Research 17(4): 411–420.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Freeland, W. J., and Choquenot, D. (1990). Determinants of herbivore carrying capacity: plants, nutrients, and Equus asinus in Northern Australia. Ecology 71(2): 589–597.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Gregory, P. J., Ingram, J. S. I., and Brklacich, M. (2005). Climate change and food security. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences 360(1463): 2139–2148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hilborn, R., Orensanz, J. M., and Parma, A. M. (2005). Institutions, incentives and the future of fisheries: One contribution of 15 to a theme issue 'Fisheries: a future?'. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society London, B 360(1453): 47–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Howden, S. M., Soussana, J. F., Tubiello, F. N., Chhetri, N., Dunlop, M., and Meinke, H. (2007). Adapting agriculture to climate change. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 104(50): 19691–19696.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Lapitan, R. M., Del Barrio, A. N., Katsube, O., Tokuda, T., Orden, E. A., Robles, A. Y., Fujihara, T., Cruz, L. C., and Kanai, Y. (2004). Comparison of feed intake, digestibility and fattening performance of Brahman grade cattle (Bos indicus) and crossbred water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis). Animal Science Journal 75(6): 549–555.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Letts, G. A. (1962). Early livestock introductions to the “top end” of the Northern Territory. Australian Veterinary Journal 38(5): 282–287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Liamputtong, L. (2009). Qualitative Research Methods. Oxford University Press, Melbourne, p. 424.Google Scholar
  37. Low, W. A., and McTaggart Cowan, I. (1963). Age Determination of Deer by Annular Structure of Dental Cementum. Journal of Wildlife Management 27: 466–471.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. McCool, C. (1992). Buffalo and Bali cattle—exploiting their reproductive-behavior and physiology. Tropical Animal Health and Production 24(3): 165–172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. McMahon C. R., Bowman D. M. J. S., Brook B. W., Williamson G. J., Bradshaw C. J. A. (2010a). Fertility drives the variable success of two introduced bovines (Bubalis bubalus and Bos javanicus) in the Australian monsoon tropics. Wildlife Research, in press.Google Scholar
  40. McMahon, C. R., Brook, B. W., Collier, N., and Bradshaw, C. J. A. (2010b). A spatially explicit spreadsheet modelling approach for optimizing the efficiency of reducing invasive animal density. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 1(1): 53–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. McPherson, S. (2010). A Case Study for an ILC Land Management Project. Aligning Indigenous Land Management with Economic Development Conference. ILC Land Management, Darwin.Google Scholar
  42. Moran, J. B. (1986). Live-weight changes in swamp and river buffalo. World Animal Review 58: 42–50.Google Scholar
  43. Moran J. B. (1992) Growth and development of buffaloes In: Tulloh NM, Holmes JHG, editors. Buffalo production. Amsterdam Elsevier. pp. 191–221.Google Scholar
  44. Pauly, D., Watson, R., and Alder, J. (2005). Global trends in world fisheries: impacts on marine ecosystems and food security: One contribution of 15 to a theme issue ‘Fisheries: a future?’ Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society London. B 360(1453): 5–12.Google Scholar
  45. Petty, A. M., Werner, P. A., Lehmann, C. E. R., Riley, J. E., Banfai, D. S., and Elliott, L. P. (2007). Savanna responses to feral buffalo in Kakadu National Park, Australia. Ecological Monographs 77(3): 441–463.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Sachs, J. D., Baillie, J. E. M., Sutherland, W. J., Armsworth, P. R., Ash, N., Beddington, J., Blackburn, T. M., Collen, B., Gardiner, B., Gaston, K. J., Godfray, H. C. J., Green, R. E., Harvey, P. H., House, B., Knapp, S., Kumpel, N. F., Macdonald, D. W., Mace, G. M., Mallet, J., Matthews, A., May, R. M., Petchey, O., Purvis, A., Roe, D., Safi, K., Turner, K., Walpole, M., Watson, R., and Jones, K. E. (2009). Biodiversity Conservation and the Millennium Development Goals. Science 325(5947): 1502–1503.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Schwab, R.G. (1995). The calculus of reciprocity: principles and implications of Aboriginal sharing. Canberra, Australian National University, Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research.Google Scholar
  48. Shea, K., Amaraskare, P., Mangel, K. M., Moore, J., Murdoch, W. W., Noonburg, E., Parma, A. M., Pascual, M. A., Possingham, H. P., Wilcox, C., and Yu, D. (1998). Management of populations in conservation, harvesting and control. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 13(9): 371–375.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Sinclair, A. R. E., Fryxell, J. M., and Caughley, G. (2006). Wildlife ecology, conservation and management Malden. Blackwell Publishing, Oxford & Carlton, p. 469.Google Scholar
  50. Tilman, D., Fargione, J., Wolff, B., D'Antonio, C., Dobson, A., Howarth, R., Schindler, D., Schlesinger, W. H., Simberloff, D., and Swackhamer, D. (2001). Forecasting agriculturally driven global environmental change. Science 292(5515): 281–284.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Tulloch, D. G. (1969). Home range of feral swamp buffalo, Bubalus bubalis Lydekker. Australian Journal of Zoology 17(1): 143–152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. United Nations (2009) The Millennium Development Goals Report 2009. New York United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. pp. 1–60Google Scholar
  53. Vorosmarty, C. J., Green, P., Salisbury, J., and Lammers, R. B. (2000). Global water resources: Vulnerability from climate change and population growth. Science 289(5477): 284–288.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Ward, M. P., Laffan, S. W., and Highfield, L. D. (2007). The potential role of wild and feral animals as reservoirs of foot-and-mouth disease. Preventive Veterinary Medicine 80(1): 9–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Werner, P. A. (2005). Impact of feral water buffalo and fire on growth and survival of mature savanna trees: An experimental field study in Kakadu National Park, northern Australia. Austral Ecology 30(6): 625–647.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Werner, P. A., Cowie, I. D., and Cusack, J. S. (2006). Juvenile tree growth and demography in response to feral water buffalo in savannas of northern Australia: an experimental field study in Kakadu National Park. Australian Journal of Botany 54(3): 283–296.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Wilson, G. R., Edwards, M. J., and Smits, J. K. (2010). Support for Indigenous wildlife management in Australia to enable sustainable use. Wildlife Research 37(3): 255–263.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Young, E. (1988). Aboriginal Economic Enterprises: Problems and Prospects. In Wade-Marshall, D., and Loveday, P. (eds.), Contemporary Issues in Development Northern Australia: Progress and Prospects. Australian National University, Northern Australian Research Unit, Darwin, pp. 182–200.Google Scholar
  59. Young, E. (1995). Third World in the First: Development and indigenous peoples. Routledge, London and New York, p. 304.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Neil Collier
    • 1
    • 4
    Email author
  • Beau J. Austin
    • 1
  • Corey J. A. Bradshaw
    • 2
    • 3
  • Clive R. McMahon
    • 1
  1. 1.School for Environmental ResearchCharles Darwin UniversityDarwinAustralia
  2. 2.The Environment Institute and School of Earth Environmental SciencesThe University of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia
  3. 3.South Australian Research and Development InstituteHenley BeachAustralia
  4. 4.Energy Resources of AustraliaEnergy HouseDarwinAustralia

Personalised recommendations