The traditional owners of Kakadu are demanding that control of thousands of hectares of the national park used for buffalo breeding be returned to Parks Australia, fearing the operation violates the park’s World Heritage obligations.
The Buffalo Farm is in the center of Kakadu, but it is not managed by Parks Australia like the rest of the park.
A report commissioned by the Kakadu board obtained by the ABC said no one could be identified as responsible for the 12,000 hectare portion of Kakadu since 2000.
The land council wants to investigate the functioning of a buffalo farm
In 1989, during the eradication of sick buffaloes in the park, the farm was established for the traditional owners to hunt healthy buffaloes.
But there have been complaints about the way it is being run and the Northern Land Council (NLC) has said it wants to investigate the matter.
“We have heard concerns from some members of traditional owner groups… [about] the continued impact of hearing about wild buffaloes in a World Heritage National Park as well. “
Claims the farm is not being used as intended
The park management plan provides for meat grown on the site to be distributed to local indigenous communities.
When the farm was created, Dave Lindner, a former environmental officer, was chosen to manage the site.
But some community members question whether the site is being used for its intended purpose.
But Mr Lindner dismissed this and said he still offered a service.
“I deliver [meat] to 400 blacks, ”he said.
Kakadu’s current management plan calls for the cessation of operation of The Buffalo Farm when “current management arrangements come to an end” and the rehabilitation of the area, a date which is unknown.
“It’s a bit ambiguous and I guess it really depends on the board of directors and the value of the farm in the community at large,” said Pete Cotsell of Parks Australia.
Lindner says no safari is organized on the farm
Mr Lindner said he allows friends of friends to hunt on the site but does not conduct any safari.
“If a person calls and says” so and so says they were with you last year and had a great time helping you buy meat and stuff “, if that person is known to me , because I have a big circle of friends in the south of collecting guns, I say ‘yes you are welcome because I can use any physical help’ “, said M Lindner.
“First, I say there is no payment… If they say ‘We want to do something’, I say ‘you can put some money. [my BP account]’, if they have a bunch of jerry cans, they pour them into the diesel feed up there. “
Complaints to Parks Australia
The park management plan states that hunting is not permitted for people who are not traditional owners, unless a permit is issued by the park manager.
When asked if he had a hunting license, Mr. Linder replied, “I don’t know… I can only tell you what I do and what Parks knows I do.
Mr Cotsell said Parks Australia had received complaints about the management of the site but Mr Lindner had provided a “very valuable service” and there was no reason to investigate further.