BOB IR­WIN SPEAKS OUT

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - Shane Ni­chols

BOB Ir­win has raised con­cerns about the some­times bru­tal ways that the in­dige­nous hunt and kill dugongs and tur­tles.

In Port Dou­glas on a book tour to pro­mote his book, The Last Croc­o­dile Hunter: A Fa­ther and Son Legacy, the renowned nat­u­ral­ist and con­ser­va­tion­ist be­came vis­i­bly an­gry when asked his opin­ion of some tra­di­tional prac­tices to do with du­gong hunt­ing.

“The Na­tive Ti­tle Act has been changed to deal with the cru­elty, but the trou­ble is then some­one’s got to en­force it. How do you do that?” he told an au­di­ence at the While­away book­shop where he was tak­ing ques­tions and sign­ing books on Fri­day.

He said it was not un­known for in­dige­nous hunters and con­sumers to cut off one tur­tle flip­per and eat it, while the an­i­mal was alive, and the other the next day, “and so on un­til they’ve worked their way around the an­i­mal”.

“If you talk about this you get called racist, but it’s not about that all,” he said. “I don’t care what colour peo­ple are.”

Mr Ir­win said he was against the killing of croc­o­diles in farms for meat and pro­duce and he did not be­lieve they should be on res­tau­rant menus.

“If I see that it is, I walk straight out,” he said. “There’s no rea­son we should be eat­ing these an­i­mals.”

Re­gard­ing the thorny is­sue of croc­o­dile man­age­ment in FNQ, Mr Ir­win be­lieved it was a mat­ter of ed­u­ca­tion.

Even if you re­moved all the known croc­o­diles, there was no guar­an­tee to of­fer to the pub­lic that any swim­ming lo­ca­tion was safe, as other croc­o­diles are usu­ally mov­ing around and may have en­tered that area in the mean­time.

Up and com­ing wildlife en­thu­si­ast Jack Jenk­ins, of Port Dou­glas, agrees. Per­haps tag­ging them might be the way to go, so that sen­sors placed in cer­tain lo­ca­tions would alert the pub­lic, as is done now with sharks in some places such as Flor­ida.

Jack was with Bob on Fri­day, in­clud­ing a visit to Jack’s school, St Au­gus­tine’s in Cairns. For the young an­i­mal han­dler, who also works with Zoo To You, it means spend­ing time with his child­hood hero.

Mr Ir­win says his own gen­er­a­tion has messed up the whole mat­ter of wildlife con­ser­va­tion and it was up to young peo­ple like Jack to take over and be the lead­ers of to­mor­row. “We need more like him,” Mr Ir­win said.

Pic­ture: AMANDA FRENCH

Jack Jenk­ins of Port Dou­glas with wildlife con­ser­va­tion­ist Bob Ir­win and Jack's mum Targa

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