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Indigenous people keen for wildlife-based employment

By Louise Errington

CDU’s Professor Stephen Garnett was part of the research team that investigated the likelihood of Indigenous Territorians taking up jobs in wildlife enterprises CDU’s Professor Stephen Garnett was part of the research team that investigated the likelihood of Indigenous Territorians taking up jobs in wildlife enterprises

A landmark research project has revealed that most Indigenous Territorians would be interested in taking up employment opportunities in wildlife-based enterprises.

The project, carried out by an interdisciplinary research team from Charles Darwin University, investigated the work preferences of Indigenous people living in the remote communities of Ngukurr, Yirrkala and Maningrida.

CDU Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods’ (RIEL) Professor Stephen Garnett said earlier research had suggested that wildlife-based enterprises, such as bush tucker farming, crocodile egg gathering and wild buffalo mustering, could create jobs in remote Indigenous communities.

“Our research shows there is a high level of interest in employment in wildlife-based industries among Indigenous people living in the Territory, with around 50 per cent of respondents indicating their preference to be involved,” Professor Garnett said.

“Young men were particularly interested in animal-based industries, whereas involvement in plant-based industries was more likely among middle-aged people of both sexes.

“People currently employed as land and sea rangers were more likely than others to express interest in wildlife-based enterprise involvement, particularly plant-based initiatives.”

Professor Garnett said the level and type of interest differed between communities, reflecting differences in history and culture.

“While the market demand for wildlife-based enterprise is currently low, there is a strong indication that such employment opportunities would be taken up by Indigenous people,” Professor Garnett said.

Professor Garnett worked alongside Northern Institute Senior Research Fellow Dr Kerstin Zander, who lead authored the paper and RIEL Research Fellow Beau Austin.