Kamela Shafaie 9GC KAKADU NATIONAL PARK
About • Kakadu National Park is in the Northern Territory of Australia, 171 km southeast of Darwin. • It covers about 19,806 kmsquared (7.646 square metres). • Kakadu National Park is listed as a World Heritage Area (listed in 1992) and as a UNESCO site. There are only two other sites in the world that hold both awards. • The South Alligator River is the only large river system in the world to be completely within and protected by a national park. And Kakadu is the only national park in the world to contain an entire river system catchment area.
FLORA & FAUNA • Australia is a land like no other, with about one million different native species. More than 80 per cent of the country’s flowering plants, mammals, reptiles and frogs are unique to Australia, along with most of its freshwater fish and almost half of its birds. A various amount of this beautiful flora and fauna live in Kakadu National Park. • The list of plants found in Kakadu Island have been named in English as well as Gun- djeihmi, a well known spoken indigenous language in the area. • Kakadu Island has the most richest flora in the whole of Northern Australia and has more then 2000 plant species. • The richness of the Flora has many outstanding results towards Kakadu’s geological, landform and habitat diversity. Kakadu is also the World’s most biggest free weed national park. • Kakadu National Park’s Fauna include Mammals, Birds, Reptiles, Fish & Insects.
Flora & Fauna • Some animals in the Park are rare, endangered, vulnerable or endemic. Responding to the extreme weather conditions experienced in the Park, many animals are active only at particular times of the day or night or at particular times of the year.
Introduced Species & Threats • Kakadu has seen several invasive species that are a threat to the native habitat, particularly in the recent decades. Introduced Fauna such as Water Buffalo, Wild Pig and more and recently the cane toad have had major effects on habitat. • Some invasive weeds such as Mimosa Pigra covers 800km² of the Top End of the National Park. An invasive grass called Urochloa mutica displaces the native food of much of Kakadu’s birdlife. • Salvinia molesta has infested the Magela floodplain. Brumbiesalso inhabit areas of the National Park, including Yellow Water. • Asian Buffalos were introduced in Northern Australia. By the 1960s buffalo numbers had reached enormous proportions and the damage they were causing was obvious. Buffalos cause damage in a number of ways. Their sheer size, weight and hard hooves compact the soil and inhibit plant growth, causing erosion. • Buffalo carry tuberculosis, which can be spread to domestic cattle. Because of the severe implications for the export meat industry, the Brucellosis and Tuberculosis Eradication Campaign was established nationwide to eradicate feral cattle and buffaloes from all areas. The Campaign provided funding to reduce buffalo numbers in the park. • The removal of buffalo from Kakadu National Park began in 1979. Of an estimated population of 20 000 buffalo, only a few hundred remain.
Introduced Species & Threats • There are other animals including Pigs, Cats, Dogs, Horses and Can toads. • Pigs cause damage to a broad range of Kakadu's habitats. They degrade the environment around springs and small rainforest patches, especially in the wet season. They also dig up areas in their search for food and compete directly with magpie geese and Aboriginal people for bulbs that grow along the wetland shores. • Horses are particularly common in the southern woodlands of the park. They spread weeds and damage waterholes by eroding soil and fouling the water. Recent control measures have reduced the number of horses along the Kakadu Highway. • Cats are present in low numbers throughout the park. Casual observations and research from southern Australia suggest that cats' hunting activity is having a detrimental effect on native wildlife. Cats are not allowed to be kept as pets in the township of Jabiru. They are shot by park staff each wet season along floodplain and creek margins. Again, this is done on an opportunistic basis.
Introduced Species & Threats • Dogs that have become feral have some impact in that they interbreed with the dingo population in the park, changing the dingo gene pool. Jabiru residents are allowed to keep up to two dogs within the confines of the township and park residents can keep dogs at the discretion of the Director of National Parks. • Cane toads were found in Kakadu National Park on 12 March 2001. • Cane toads are poisonous throughout most of their life cycle and current information suggests that they will have an initial impact on animals such as snakes, goannas and quolls, who will try to eat them. • Evidence from other areas effected by Cane toads suggest numbers will stabilise after an initial period. No effective control measures are available. • Cane toads in the park are likely to be one of the most pressing management problems facing Kakadu in the coming decade.
Government Response • Australian government have responded to the Introduced animals and plants. The Government have decided to keep further investigations and researches towards these species. • Staff use manual weed control programs, biological control techniques and regularly carry out monitoring and research to manage them. • Other problems found in the park have been a threat to both the Flora and Fauna. Aboriginal landowners and Parks Australia work together to enhance and protect Aboriginal rights and interests while looking after the natural and cultural values of the Park. Although Kakadu National Park contributes millions of dollars in tourism,
Government Response • Aboriginal People in Kakadu do not greatly benefit from this. To address this, a range of employment opportunities for Aboriginal people have been introduced. • Many Australian and International tourists visit Kakadu National Park and Aboriginal people are proud to share their country and culture with visitors. One issue is finding a balance between providing tourist activity and protecting Aboriginal rights and interests. To manage this, some areas of the Park are set aside for ceremonial activities and hunting and not accessible to the public. • Kakadu is jointly managed by the Board of Management which has an Aboriginal majority representing Traditional Owners and by Parks Australia (a division of the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts) on behalf of the Director of National Parks.
Solutions • Animals should be managed and monitored closely to decrease harm and changes to the local flora and fauna. • Staff must include different researches in their plans and investigate habits and related problems the animals face in their lives. • Help train animals to get along with other animals and find their strength and weaknesses. • Keep watch for harmful flora and keep guide of the different species.