By ERWIN CHLANDA
“Many of our national parks are surrounded by pastoral properties, but the rugged natural terrain makes boundary stock exclusion fences impractical.”
This was stated by the Department of Tourism and Culture, which is responsible for national parks, after the Alice Springs News reported seeing cattle in the East MacDonnells national park.
This included a bull at the base of Corroboree Rock, one of the park’s iconic landmarks.
Cattlemen’s Association CEO Ashley Manicaros says pastoralist are not responsible for stock management in national parks: “It’s mostly between Parks and traditional owners,” he says.
The parks are Aboriginal owned, with the NT Government responsible for management.
There are issues about feral animals, weeds and fire control, says Mr Manicaros.
There are no uniform protocols although in some instances there are “informal arrangements” for mustering cattle in parks: “Pastoralists are not allowed to manage livestock in parks, it is not that we don’t wish to, it is that there are no formal arrangements for the management to occur.
“Parks don’t fence. They leave it up to pastoralist to fence,” he says.
The department says current drought conditions can result in stock pressure occurring in areas where we don’t normally have a problem.
“When stock do stray onto Parks land we work with property owners to remove them, and recently carried out a muster to remove cattle from Ruby Gap.”
The News will today be putting further questions to Parks as well as seeking comment from Tourism Central Australia and the Arid Lands Environment Centre.
Questions to or invitation to comment to Tourism Central Australia, Central Land Council, Department of Tourism & Culture, Arid Lands Environment Centre.
• How many cattle are estimated to be in Central Australia’s national parks at the moment?
• What damage or benefit do these cattle cause or provide?
• Is the parks authority entitled to muster and sell them?
• If so, where are they doing it (apart from Ruby Gap)?
• Are Aboriginal rangers engaged in control, muster and sale of these apparently feral cattle?
• Any other comments.
Jimmy Cocking, CEO, Arid Lands Environment Centre (ALEC), writes:–
Cattle have no place in conservation reserves or national parks. Cattle spread weeds, preferentially eat native plants and damage water holes. We urge the NT Government to work with neighbouring pastoralists and the Land Council to ensure the removal and exclusion of cattle from these important ecological and cultural sites.
Feral herbivores should be culled or mustered to the nearest yards for removal if they are found in conservation areas as part of the management plans for the area.
UPDATE Sept 7
The communications manager of the Central Land Council (CLC), Elke Wiesmann, says: “CLC rangers don’t control cattle in national parks.”
She says the West and East MacDonnells are Aboriginal land under the Land Rights Act, leased to the NT Government.