BOB IRWIN SPEAKS OUT
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.
Jack Jenkins of Port Douglas with wildlife conservationist Bob Irwin and Jack's mum Targa