The issue of land rights applies to all our wildlife no less than the first nation people of Australia. Wombats have inhabited this land for millennia, and looked very different in the age of the dinosaur. They adapted during the time when the changes of the planet were slower, and dictated by an indifferent nature.
By declaring Terra Nullius [nobody's land] Britain managed to avoid war or asking permission of indigenous people to settle and take their land, and thereby avoided respecting the right and culture of indigenous inhabitants of our species and wildlife. So all who lived on the land when Captain Cook claimed it, were ignored and that continues today. Certainly with wildlife, and it's still sanctioned by a government that says it has accepted Terra Nullius was incorrect, and just a ploy.
Anti-racism education for Australian schools
The white settler and their imported animals are protected by law. The law now allows animals, where it's believed that the wildlife using land their ancestors had always considered areas they could use, to be killed. It does appear to be in error, and of course it is wrong. We who would destroy the land system that worked for all who lived on this continent are now paying a price. There is a greater impost outstanding against our species which needs to be paid yet. We will pay a little, our grandchildren will pay the most.
We owe much to the Bare Nosed Wombat [aka common wombat] as it assisted in shaping the Victorian landscape which we now enjoy and erroneously call our own.
So what we are doing now? Allowing Bare Nosed Wombats, kangaroos and other wildlife to be killed due to the whim of land holders and managers is morally wrong. That this dispossession and killing continues in this day and age shows our species to be completely without empathy or understanding. Everything is brought back to the lowest common denominator, money. Because while we allow wombats and other digging wildlife to be killed we find fire more prevalent. The agricultural methods we practice in the main, to make huge amounts of money, are completely without thought for environment or those who live in it only because it's still, only just, healthy enough to do so. It's not wearing well.
Wombats, aerate the soil, create burrows which allow water to penetrate and filter into the subsoil, dig up roots and by so doing, covering the forest and pasture detritus, which assist with decomposition, which assists with water holding ability, which assists with increasing soil fertility. Which assists us all.
A historical factThis has to laid bare, because it could all happen again at the whim of government.
Bare nosed wombats like all our wildlife, were being killed since Labor Premier of Victoria, John Brumby, rescinded their protection in the 1980's allowing them to be killed in 193 parishes of Eastern Victoria; as confirmed by a letter from Kimberley Dripps Executive Director Biodiversity at the time.
However, in the term of office of Hon. Gavin Jennings as Minister for Environment and Climate Change, there was to be a review of this legislation, but it was killed off. Having sent a letter to Hon Gavin Jennings requesting the reason why this review was not undertaken; no reply was forthcoming from him. He was asked but did not give a reason or explanation why he didn't continue the review?
How many thousands of wombats had been killed during those decades of persecution and do we really know what we have lost in their genetic heritage?
Daniel Andrews government, Governor in council revoked the order that left wombats unprotected in 193 parishes of Eastern Victoria on Tuesday 4 February 2020 under the pressure from the Animal Justice Party and tens of thousands of petition signatures. Wombats are now protected all over Victoria.
We are in a new era for bare nosed wombats in Victoria, and grateful for that. However, we know that wombats will still be killed in many places in Victoria where detection of their death is not obvious. The Victorian government has seen sense on this issue and presented it to Victorians. But some people will still break the law, and all Victorians will be the poorer for it.
It's not known when, if at all, Aluminium Phosphide tablets are no longer used to gas wombats in their burrows. One imagines that this is no longer sanctioned by any government department. But that could be incorrect. There are still cull permits handed out to people who think they are inconvenienced by wombats. However, when Aluminium Phosphide tablets were used by the companion department [lands department] of the one which was supposed to protect wildlife, one wonders what the state government was thinking of, killing so many digging animals. Just how many wombats were gassed?
In the days when the first white settlers boot hit the ground in Australia the land had evolved a sustainable system of continuance, it was healthy and thriving. There had been natural fires [not started by the Aboriginal people as some might suggest] floods, droughts and all living sentient beings of the land had adapted. There was death certainly, just as it should be.
Fires generally didn't burn as hot as they do today. One of the reasons for this wasn't and still isn't obvious to most educators, historians or people in general. There were thousands of these little diggers in the forest, not only wombats and bandicoots, going about their business aerating and improving the soil. Their search for food in the soil, for roots, insects or insect larvae, covered some of the leaf and bark litter, adding and helping to hold moisture and assisting to break it down faster and getting it out of harms way.
Killing these little Ozzie diggers, with all else they have to endure, is criminal, and now officially so. Finally it is an illegal act. Killing the digging and burrowing animals because they were not considered or understood what benefits they brought to the forested and opne areas; labelled a nuisance, whenever and wherever they were found. Left any remaining forest floor without these beneficial native animals and their activities to improve the soil, by composting the canopy detritus, and diminishing the fire threat and intensity immeasurably.
Too few digging animals to protect it; logging without constraint, the forest is little protection for wildlife and has little wildlife protection. The synergy of all the elements was broken and finally destroyed. The increased intensity when a fire was either started by lightning or invaded from the to quickly expanding grassland of properties. Burnt wildlife from canopy to the ground.
White settlers had come, and congratulated themselves for the destruction they brought about, both directly and indirectly, declaring it virtuous and worthy. It continues to this day and while we see the problems created, we say we are the clever species.
If left alone to go about their business, wombats can and in most cases do live and survive in many areas of Victoria, which is the state that should apply the most protection for these and other wildlife. Victoria offers so many places where people can interface with wildlife, but not necessarily touch or interfere with them. This is something that should be seen by all government agencies as a great bonus. Few acknowledge this fact. Even fewer protect the wildlife and these places where people can experience something wonderful. Something that money can't buy.
More Interesting Reading About Wombats
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