Queensland: Making Terra Nullius
Life on land
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Life on land
How we think about the land that we live on, what we know about the ecosystems we live in, which are as important in sustaining us as they are all other species, tells us about how well we belong in a place. This story was written in 2014 during an extensive trip across Queensland.
The extinct, threatened and vulnerable species in Queensland provide a powerful description of a journey from the once sacred and sung lands of Aboriginal Australia, to a place described in the minds of at least some of its new inhabitants, as useless scrub, a falsehood that allows for its pointless and vast scale destruction.
“Regional extinctions are also commonplace as the range (distribution) of a species contracts and fragments. This self-deception means that conservation status listing of Australian species is not keeping up with the rapid decline of the species that live on the Australian Continent. The politics involved in listing species includes influencing outcomes, this is particularly evident when it comes to Kangaroo, Possum and Parrot species”. Peter and Andrea Hylands
NOTE: Invertebrates: Information in Queensland Government listings in relating to invertebrates is poor and the list, if it existed for invertebrates, would be extensive. Many species that will have been exterminated to date will not have been described. The matter can be demonstrated by providing the estimated number species in Australia:
As at 2014, in some instances the Queensland Government listings contradict the status of the IUCN red list, or indeed that of Australia’s Federal Government. For example, while the Northern Gastric Brooding Frog Rheobatrachus vitellinus is listed by the Australian Federal Government as extinct, as it is in the IUCN global list, the Queensland Government have listed the animal as endangered. Another example and there are many, Allan’s Lerista Leristaallanae, a skink, is listed by the IUCN as critically endangered while the Queensland Government list the species as endangered. The Queensland Government’s classification strategies of these species is likely to distort the true situation for many of the plants and animals living in the state.
Even animals with the word Common in their name are in trouble.
Species also do not respect borders and many species may exist in more than one Australian state or territory. All Australian states and territories have many issues with the conservation of species, so Queensland should not be regarded as the only state with an appalling record of species conservation.
The iconic Koala Phascolarctos cinereus is in big trouble in Queensland because of land clearing. The Australian Federal Government (April 2012) added the Koala to the threatened species list as vulnerable in Queensland, New South Wales and the ACT, as at 2014, this appears not to have happened in Queensland’s own listings (other than a regionally vulnerable listing in SEQ, otherwise within Queensland the Koala is considered as common, which it is not). No doubt the Queensland non-listing is to ensure the Koala does not get in the way of further deforestation efforts. The Koala is an indicator to the attitudes of the Queensland Government and its departments.
And so to 2022, the Koala was listed as endangered by Australia's Federal Government in Queensland, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory on 11 February 2022, while the Victorian Government pretends it has too many Koalas. Needless to say, in Queensland and elsewhere, Koala habitat continues to be bulldozed, all too often along with the Koalas.
In the last century or so, what has been done to the environment in Queensland, including extensive clearing of all vegetation types and ecosystems, including tropical rainforests, has created a situation where there are now very significant environmental issues both on the land and in the oceans. Whether it is the disregard for the ecology of the Great Barrier Reef or the health of the Great Artesian Basin and fresh water systems, or deforestation and species decline and extinction, management of introduced species, all are poorly judged and their implications concealed from a tolerant population. Today, the only answer for economic development of the state is just more of the same old same.
This first section lists species now extinct in the wild, many are extinct and the species has no captive populations. There are numerous regional extinctions across this vast state.
NOTE: Extinct (in the wild wildlife) - reptiles, fish and invertebrates not listed, amphibians partly listed
This section provides an indication of the range of species that are endangered in Queensland.
This is typical of what happens to species, this time the Australian Lungfish, Ceratodus. Here is an extract from an article by Harry Frauca, February 1964.
“By the time it had become known to science the Ceratodus’ habitat had been reduced to the Burnett and Mary Rivers in Queensland. From an ecological standpoint it could be regarded as a species that very nearly became extinct before scientists had a chance to study it. Now it has been introduced into various other Queensland rivers, where it is said to be doing well and in its home waters it seems to be not uncommon and as both rivers flow through sparsely populated farm and bush country. It is safe for the present from industrial pollution. The term living fossil was coined by Charles Darwin when he wrote in his Origin of the Species and in fresh water we find some of the most anomalous forms now known in the world”.
Things have clearly changed since 1964 and today the Lungfish is a protected species and may not be caught without a special permit. The species is however not listed as threatened or endangered as it did not meet the criteria for listing. It is included on the list of vulnerable species and was added to the CITES list in 1977.
If you want to be really angry about what is happening to wildlife populations around the world, Queensland is a very good place to start. Apart from anything else, the so called humane killing of Kangaroos promoted by the Queensland Government, is in reality brutal, sometimes engaging young children in the extreme violence towards native animals, violence that is sometimes sexualised by adults, both male and female. This is not only awful for the animals who often die terrible deaths, but for the people engaged in the killing and the culture that has to live with it.
At the time of writing, no listings for fish species or insects in 'Near threatened' were found.