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Ian Morris reflecting on Biodiversity decline over 50 years


Published: 1 Aug 2013

Ian’s association with the Top End began in the 1960s while still at school. In 1968 he joined a marsupial research team with UNSW Zoology Dept., under Prof GB Sharman, & worked on kangaroo projects in western NSW, Myall Lakes & Cape York Peninsula. Following this in 1971, he began secondary science teaching in the ACT & then moved to Arnhem land.

Here he says his real education began. He was particularly fascinated by the land ethic of the traditional people of the region, many of whom were born in traditional circumstances.
In order to follow his interest he became familiar with the Yol?u languages of the northern Arnhem region, as most of the existing detailed natural history information was tied up in tradition.

He was interested to learn that each wildlife species, including the minority with little or no economic value, had a time-honoured affiliation with at least one Yol?u clan. This introduced an amazing concept not recognised by western culture, or indeed, science – that is, people are responsible for all wildlife.

In the early 70s, information was abundant.

Ian then moved to Kakadu when the National Park was set up and worked extensively with the traditional owners as he pioneered the development of indigenous rangers.

In this audio file he reflects on what he learnt from the traditional born indigenous people he was fortunate to live and work with.

Link to audio file of Ian's interview 

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