Discussion in 'Australian Snakes' started by The Reptile Outlet, Sep 27, 2011.
Good news for the hobby, now just need a few more.
For what it's worth, here's the press release from the NT Government this arvo:
[h=2]Media Release: 29.03.12[/h]Sustainable Future for the Oenpelli Python
The first ever legal commercially harvested Oenpelli Python has been taken into captivity in Western Arnhem Land.
Classed as Vulnerable under the Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act, the two metre female Oenpelli Python was caught on Saturday, 25 March 2011 by Dr Gavin Bedford, highly respected Northern Territory herpetologist, and Traditional Owners.
Last year, the Minister for Parks and Wildlife approved the “Options for Establishing a Sustainable Use Program for the Oenpelli Python”.
The Manager, Wildlife Use, Keith Saalfeld said that the combination of highly restricted range and vulnerable status has resulted in the Oenpelli Python being highly sought after by collectors and breeders across Australia and around the world.
“The guidelines set out in the “Options for Establishing a Sustainable Use Program for the Oenpelli Python” focus on the establishment of sustainable utilisation of the Oenpelli Python”.
The two key components of the guidelines are; that any utilisation is sustainable and does not negatively impact the conservation status of the species; and that the utilisation provides a significant direct and measurable benefit to the Traditional Owners who are the landholders of the country in which Oenpelli Pythons are found.
“This is the first animal to be successfully taken under a permit issued by the Department Of Natural Resources, Environment, the Arts and Sport (NRETAS) in accordance with the approved guidelines”, said Mr Saalfeld.
“As required under the Permit to Take Protected Wildlife, GPS coordinates of the exact location that the animal was found were recorded, along with a detailed photograph of the head and neck scale pattern (a snake’s “fingerprint”). The animal has also been implanted with a unique ID microchip.
This information is provided to the Parks and Wildlife Service, who in turn take samples for the DNA profiling of each python. The DNA of every legally harvested and bred Oenpelli Python will be on record.
“This information is required for every Oenpelli Python legally harvested from the wild and for each of the offspring of these animals. This is to ensure that illegally harvested pythons cannot be used in trade or for breeding. Heavy penalties apply for any illegally taken wildlife in the Northern Territory”, concluded Mr Saalfeld.
The Oenpelli python has a very restricted range, found only on the sandstone massif of western Arnhem Land – an area of about 34,000 km2. The entire distribution is confined to Aboriginal land.
Any harvest requires both a permit under the Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act and a Land Use Agreement under the Aboriginal Land Rights (NT) Act.
Two permits and Land Use Agreements to harvest Oenpelli Pythons have been issued; one to Dr Gavin Bedford, a highly respected Northern Territory herpetologist working in partnership with Traditional Owners in western Arnhem Land, and the second to Djelk Wildlife Enterprises, an Indigenous wildlife enterprise working with Traditional Owners in western Arnhem Land.
To help ensure that the benefit to Traditional Owners is maintained, no wild-caught breeding stock will be permitted to leave the Northern Territory.
Follow this link to access the publication ‘Options for Establishing a Sustainable Use Program for the Oenpelli Python’:
Approved Programs - NRETAS Internet Site
If it does end up on the news in NT can someone put up a link on here.
Rare, treasured python now a potential pet - ABC Darwin - Australian Broadcasting Corporation
A little tid-bit and the first available pictures.
Saw a snippet on the news tonight, looks pretty young.
Wonderful beginning to a great adventure tho, good luck Gavin : )
well unfortunately there are no more available spots on the first trip
I got onto gavin and secured it
Looking forward to the experience
Good luck Specks, I'm going with Waruikazi since he hasn't found one yet I'm thinking the odds are with him ha ha
Gonna catch any adults? They breed better. (are you sure it's not a childrens? )
Can someone explain to me how "wildlife is in catastrophic decline" in Arnhem Land?????? Apart from quolls everything else is bouncing back. Far as I can tell there is only anecdotal evidence of a decline in Oenpelliensis from self interested white fellas.
Where is the hard data that shows Oenpellies are in massive decline? I cant find any evidence anywhere. The countrymen I work with across Arnhem Land laugh at this idea.
Let's call it what it is, a commercial venture (and I have no problem with this as long as a fair proportion of the money goes to TOs.), and leave the unfounded dramatics out of this.
The catastophic decline in wildlife, particularly in mammals is well documented in Kakadu, and it's not just the scientific community that has noticed, T/O's are very concerned as well. The Top End is a very different place now to what I experienced when I first visited in 1984.
"everything else is bouncing back" ????? there have been some sightings of animals in recent times that were knocked around heavily by the toads, but I think bouncing back is a leap of faith at this stage! The toads are just one factor amongst many others, eg weed invasion, changing fire regimes, feral animals etc
Oenpellis have never been common and as such there is no population data available.....it's just guesswork. An animal whose main prey is mammals, in an area where mammal decline is well documented – I think there is every reason to be concerned. Too often "anecdotal" reports from reliable observers are cast aside as not being scientifically valuable. Tell me where we can get baseline data on their populations from, considering you would need a considerable number to get anything statistically significant and therefore scientifically valuable!
Sure this is a commercial venture, but it has a very strong conservation base as well.
The decline in many species across the topend is very well documented Steve. Read nearly anything by John Woinarski and if you trust him and his data you will become a beleiver.
No one has ever said that there is a definite or recorded drop in drop bear numbers and Gavin certaintly didn't claim that in the interview. Most researchers say their is a lack of data to claim beyond a shadow of a doubt. But if the trends are followed and the anecdotes are taken into account it definately seemes likely that there will be or has been a decline in there numbers. Especially when we take into account what Greg (saratoga) has said.
Until very recently i thought like you. But the more research i do, the more i am thinking the opposite.
3.5yrs + would most likely be the min age before being able to re-produce in captivity.....obviously wild specimens would require additional years.
Gordo and Saratoga are spot on in my view. Here is another angle on it.
This is a direct quote from the overarching Federal environmental protection Act - the EPBC:
“A lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent degradation of the natural and cultural heritage of a reserve or zone where there is a threat of serious or irreversible damage.”
This quote is also built into the Kakadu Plan of Management which - of course - is run by the Federal Government.
It is now 6 years since the NT Parks and Wildlife Commission published a status report on the Oenpelli Python. They have listed it as "Vulnerable" They would not do that for no reason. Here are recommendations in the Status Report:
"Conservation objectives and management
Research priorities are to:
(i) examine the impacts of fire regimes upon the Oenpelli python directly, or its preferred prey species;
(ii) attempt to derive some estimate of relative abundance, habitat associations and total population size;
(iii) collate, where appropriate, traditional ecological knowledge of this species held by Aboriginal landowners in the stone country.
Management priorities are to:
(i) establish a monitoring program for this species, particularly with reference to its response to fire management;
(ii) continue to deter illicit reptile collectors."
That was 6 years ago, and apart from the last point (which is ongoing, routine management in Kakadu) neither the NT parks and Wildlife or Parks Australia in Kakadu have managed to do even one of these things - after 6 years! It takes a private individual, pushing uphill all the way, to try to get something done. Gavin has been at this for 9 years!! Thus, if either of the responsible conservation agencies had done anything - just anything on this list - then I would be inclined to agree with you about the commercialisation aspect. But they have failed dismally and therefore I support Gavin 100%.
And don't forget - all this is about just one species. Who is worrying about all the other endemic animals (and plants) of Kakadu and west Arnhemland that are going belly up right now? Nobody - that's who. The Giant Arnhemland Skink in Kakadu is so close to extinct that it does not matter. Even if Parks Australia suddenly woke from its torpor, it is possible that they would not find enough individual skinks to create a viable breeding colony. Who is worrying about the White throated Grass Wren, the Phascogale, the Golden Bandicoot, the Brush Tailed Rabbit Rat and the the Arnhem Rock Rat? Nobody - that's who. And what about all those Kakadu animals about which we know nothing. There are about 9 endemic reptiles in kakadu, and nobody knows what is happening to them.So this rant is meant to paint the picture that if the private sector does not do some pushing and shoving (regardless of what model you might want to use) all the signs are pointing to a situation where we are likely to loose species from the wild hand over fist - if things don't change.
And as for countrymen laughing out loud, - maybe they would. But that is because they see no distinction between and Oenpelli Python and a Childrens Python.
It is a good debate to have - ain't it.
Well said Greg
Too lucid to count as a rant, Greg. Thanks for saying it.
Have the numbers of varanus glauerti been affected? They are such a beautiful monitor. I'd hate to see them become extinct. Do you know if anyone's been issued with a permit to collect them?
Bang on Slick! And that is just talking about the animals that we know about, there are species in the escarpment that no one has even laid eyes on yet. How many have we lost before we even knew they were there?!
Excellent post Greg. You've raised some very valid points there. The quote from the EPBC is a critical statement.
Bureaucracies are inherently sluggish and notoriously slow to act. They're all too often rendered ineffective as a result of cumbersome due process. In the face of rapid and catastrophic environmental devastation, such as what is occurring in the Top End, it will probably be too late for many species. If we wait patiently, for under-resourced government departments to save our environment, we will only have ourselves to blame.
The time has definitely come for the private sector to really step up. Hopefully the passionate enthusiasm and considerable resources of private individuals banded together will make a real difference. Perhaps the corporate sector can also be enticed to contribute their considerable capital to the cause. If we can get organized and rally together, we would have much more political clout that will hopefully enable us to affect significant and long-lasting environmental change.
Very true, although I never expected to see a comment like that in a government report. The general public just don't understand that even for common animals it takes countless years to establish " any idea of scientific certainty" in wild populations and in the meantime things can just slip away.
The Giant Arnhemland Skink: Were we too late for this one?
Two very competent field herpetologists, very familiar with the area and its animals spent 6 weeks searching the escarpment focusing on finding this one animal. Not only did they not find any evidence of living specimens, (nor any Oenpelli Pythons), they were saddened by how "dead" some of the escarpment country was when it came to wildlife. A big wake up call I think! See this link for a bit more info:
Arnhem Crevice Skink photo - Alexander Dudley photos at pbase.com
– gone are the days when you could ask a park ranger about wildlife and expect an informed reply. Sadly very few people on the ground in these areas anymore who have much of an idea about local wildlife, let alone experience.(at least from a white fella perspective)
Great post Greg
I just wrote a huge response and (as has been happening a lot lately) APS was suddenly "not responding". I lost the lot. I will try an abreviated (not inebriated) response after a cold beer.
I just spent last week in Central Arnhem Land. We went up into the stone country where we did not find a single toad. Frogs and lizards were abundant as were the scats of mammals from wallaroo to antechinus size. We found the tracks of several small to medium sized snakes and 2 xl ones. These larger tracks could have been bhps (whose population has increased since the toads) or olives but the TOs I was with immediately identified them as “the big white snake”. I had not discussed oenpellies with them up to that point. We found NO weed species in the stone country although we identified 34 species in and around the Community.
I agree with the points Greg makes. My job is to get the various Ranger groups across Arnhem Land trained up to tackle those same issues. There is more hope of these groups managing burning, controlling weeds and reducing ferals (all of which, except the toads, have been here more than a century) than any government department or private enterprise.
I say again, I have no problem with the commercial utilisation of wildlife, including Gavin’s project, as long as it is sustainable and the TOs get genuine benefit from the process. I have seen too many schemes that sound great, where ultimately the money is squirreled away and the TOs end up with nothing but a bad taste in their mouths.
Perhaps if Parks put more people on the ground instead of wasting their money on desk driving computer modellers we would find out what is really going on in the stone country. After all that is what we are really talking about here, not the floodplains or the savannah woodland or the coast.
I am seeing resurgences in many species that were invisible after the toads arrived. And I spend a lot of time on country.
Greg I would like to discuss with you (given your photographic archive), creating a cybertracker database that the Rangers could use for recording native species. We already have very good ones for weeds and ferals that provide excellent information and the Rangers always carry these devices with them. Another string to their bow perhaps? Also regards to Carlia, I used to take her bushwalking with the Dukes Mob many moons ago.
Which community were you in Steve?
I agree, we are starting to see a resurgence in some species that were affected by the toads, mulgas for example certaintly seem to be turning up more often than they did 5 years ago. But alot of the decline, particularly in the mammal numbers, is not attributed to the toads. We know they are still there, no one says they aren't. But they are not in the same numbers that thye used to be.
I'mheading out to get inebriated. I'll hold my breath and look forward to reading more on this tomorrow.