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The Australian National University

The viability of wildlife enterprises in remote Indigenous communities of Australia: A case study

Working Paper 63 / 2010


Sustainable wildlife enterprises developed for commercial purposes are a potential source of economic and socio-cultural benefit for Indigenous people living in remote locations in Australia. This paper examines the viability of a wildlife enterprise in Arnhem Land (Northern Territory) that harvests three animal species for commercial sale: saltwater crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus), northern long-necked turtles (Chelodina rugosa) and tarantula spiders (Selenotholus sp.). Whilst the crocodile and turtle industries are well established, the tarantula spider industry is an emergent industry. Factors influencing the development of the enterprise and its on-going viability are identified, including the extent of collaboration between the local Indigenous community and western scientists; knowledge and skill requirements for a successful wildlife enterprise; and institutional constraints on the effectiveness of wildlife enterprises in remote localities. In examining the viability of the wildlife enterprise, suggestions are made to strengthen the continued operation of the enterprise and its potential to become commercially viable.

Keywords: Indigenous ecological knowledge, traditional knowledge, western science, collaborative research, remote Australia, wildlife enterprise viability, natural resource management, Indigenous education and training.


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