The very generous and constructive comments are great. Thanks. A …

Comment on Caterpillars as big as a mountain are starving by Fiona Walsh.

The very generous and constructive comments are great. Thanks. A few suggested actions:
– Recognize the four caterpillars and their host plants then tell others about them.
– Enjoy and share the article, Flikr album and fun videos like this one sent to me https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-68SCBHyzM
– Adopt the ‘pennies for pounds’ concept that Linda proposed. Look after the small critters that make our land interesting and ecosystems function.
– Let the caterpillars eat rather than spray, poison or kill them. The plants will regrow.
– Clear parts of your land, garden and/or verge of Buffel and Couch grass and maintain as a native garden. It is likely native plants will flourish with rain and fade as it dries. As Alex wrote, native seeds and suckers recolonize remarkably quickly. Planting a few natives (as Myf suggests) to begin does help but is not essential.
– Register your verge with the town council as a managed verge. If landowners and the council collaborated to grow this program it would reduce the costs of their current whip, snip and mow expenses.
– Become an active member of a local landcare group or commit to manage and maintain an area of bush near you.
– Support policy change that recognizes Buffel grass as an environmental weed.
– Listen to and respect the custodians, traditional owners and native title holders for the deeper stories that shape this town and what they would like to see happen.
– Encourage the concept of Ayepe-arenye (Yeperenye) as part of our Alice Springs identity and your children’s identity.
– Recognize and respect the sacred sites with their Altyerr that are integral to this country (see the little book ‘A town like Mparntwe’).
What else do you think we should do to care for custodians, caterpillars and country?

Recent Comments by Fiona Walsh

A touch of light: Aquila audax
Mike, your skills and writings are much appreciated. The weave of your experience, with animal observations and wry but important questions offer us much.
You shed a little light on your dedication and practice in photographing Eagles (whilst they watch you) but how was that extraordinary eagle in flight image captured?


A touch of light: totemic caterpillars
Wow, twelve Ayepe-arenye in one photo. I so appreciate what you share Mike.
In these strange times gardens, bush and nature can offer solace. It’s easy to walk, look and be curious.
Last evening in the Spencer Hill Landcare area I was watching a herd of Utnerrengatye (Emu bush caterpillars).
They grazed on the tips of Utnerre (Emu bush shrub). I was surprised to see an Ilperenye (aka green stinky beetle) like a sentinel higher than the caterpillars. I associate them as ground-dweller who hunt Ayepe-arenyes.
While I was video-ing the Ilperenye, the beetle disappeared out of frame. Gone? No, it leapt to grab and stab a caterpillar. A long pincer hold as green guts streamed out. I felt a chill and saw more clearly why Arrernte people whisper the name Ilperenye as if something scary.
Is sci-fi in our backyard better than TV?
Thanks again to you, other landcarers who clear space for wonderful critters and traditional owners who share their insights.


Real young people, not the faceless offender
Rainer, it is good to read of the experience shared by yourself and your countrymen in the group. It seems you are humble, wise, trusting, open-hearted and deeply considered. I valued reading your quiet questions of local people even to finer details like where to put your swag. So often European Australians come to a cross-cultural context, with at best little recognition of our own assumptions and presumptions and worse, with beliefs that ‘the solution’ is known by outsiders.
There is much to learn from the guidance of older people and the inspiration and energy of younger people. Thank you for writing and sharing the account of this trip and its deeper insights.


West MacDonnells blaze: sorrow and questions
To the rangers, other parks staff, Aboriginal rangers, Bushfires staff, volunteers and others – thank you again for your work in the recent Tjoritja (West Macs) fires.
The valiant efforts to protect at least Angkerle Atwatye (Standley Chasm) and Ormiston building complexes were obvious. I also acknowledge the worry of your families.
Conditions were in the 40s, winds strong, terrain often inaccessible even on foot and equipment probably limited.
I expect there was confusion, conflicting priorities, misunderstandings, even mistakes. These are to learn from.
A cooperative, well-coordinated, sustained approach is needed. I expect you’ll look to experts like those named in earlier articles and others.
Fire management is largely about people.
To the wider public, we’re all responsible even indirectly as our choices, our actions – our inaction – influences our climate and these regional landscapes.


Fire management inadequate to non-existent: ALEC
Firstly, thank you to the 80 or so people who tried to contain fires in Tyerrtye (West Macs National Park).
This devastating fire is a tragedy: Three major burns in 20 years is a repeated tragedy.
I still miss the old corkwood groves east of Hugh River who burnt c. 2001.
Now I think of the places on the Larapinta Trail where we’ve seen and heard moist mulga groves, frog pools, old pythons, ancient Callitris trees, rare plants, persistent possums – have these gone? Are they safe?
The Macs is a biodiversity hot spot with more species than any desert bioregion in Australia. And more cultural sites and songlines too. These fires are comparable with the 2018 Queensland rainforest burns and the current Tasmanian burns.
As a desert ecologist and social scientist, I ask why did this happen in the Macs?
What can we learn and improve upon? Burns will happen again.
To the why – there is climate change and buffel grass fuels.
There is also government priorities, funding and practical on-ground actions.
Parks and Wildlife has been defunded by successive governments to the detriment of landcare and management.
Whereas government funding to short-term tourism ventures like Uluru field of light and Parrtjima have increased. Has funding for Red Centre Nats and Finke desert race also grown?
Each are badged as contributing to a “turbo-charged” economy and do contribute to global warming. The costs to the natural systems that sustain humankind and wildlife are high.
West Macs fires could have been smaller had there been better funding, then sustained strategic prescribed burning by people competent and confident to do so.
25 years ago a cohort of park managers and fire experts burnt regularly with matches and drip torches in mild conditions.
People like Latz, Matthews, the Allans then mentored Schubert, Catt and others. Many of them learnt from and worked with experienced Aboriginal people; some still do. They did protective and preventative burning.
Has this Aboriginal – whitefella culture of burning patches and breaks shifted to one of caution or fear thus inaction?
We know mitigation is easier, safer and cheaper than defence when fires burn.
Action is more important than plans, strategies, workshops or even these words.
Annual investments of several hundred thousand dollars in skilled people who learn and do the practical work of burning in our national parks is vital.


Be Sociable, Share!

A new way to support our journalism

We do not have a paywall. If you support our independent journalism you can make a financial contribution by clicking the red button below. This will help us cover expenses and sustain the news service we’ve been providing since 1994, in a locally owned and operated medium.

Erwin Chlanda, Editor