By MIKE GILLAM
Steve Morton would be the first to admit his book is not all-encompassing but a tantalising survey of desert ecology as we know it.
Ruth [who commented on this report], I too would like to have seen a colossal chapter addressing the buffel grass story, along with a rapidly expanding suite of exotic grasses and other impacts, including feral camels and cats that are destroying biodiversity.
Incidentally, I strongly recommend “Amongst the Pigeons” written by buffel grass warrior from South Australia, Dr. John Read, a detailed and compelling book on the environmental impact of cats! I feel sure he is writing the buffel grass award winner as we speak.
In fairness, Morton had his hands full explaining the ecology of Australia’s deserts. What to leave out was a difficult task for the writer and a great many worthy subjects and photographs were set aside.
His work reflects a seven year undertaking and certainly pushed the publishing boundaries of cost and return. I’m very pleased that he received the Whitley Medal for his outstanding contribution to environmental literature.
Sadly, no single chapter could have done justice to the ecological threats ravaging Australia’s Deserts.
I posted three buffel essays on the Alice Springs News during 2021 and I’m currently working on part four, mostly set in South Australia where, for example, quandongs are still abundant in the absence of camels.
This conclusion to my essays is a more hopeful one that reveals ecological innovators who are working with determined land managers to confront the buffel threat.
Accordingly, the opportunity to publish on the buffel grass tragedy will definitely be realised in coming years and I for one, while not an eminent scientist, hope to leave no significant politician, scientific institution or seed merchant, unturned.
PHOTO by MIKE GILLAM: “Buffel invasion of the APY Lands (image east of Kalka) massively accelerated by road works and absence of weed control at the road side. Mr Gillam contributed most of the outstanding photographs for Steve Morton’s book.