Land Rights News Central Australia: Land Rights News (September 2010)
Princess Parrot watchers flock to Centre
The traditional owners approved the first request they received from people wanting to see the apparently rare princess parrot which had been sighted south of Mt Leibig.
However the number of bird watchers quickly swelled to up to 80 people as they arrived in Alice Springs within days of the reports.
Applications were refused when it was discovered that some bird watchers had broken the law by driving onto the Trust without permission on several occasions.
Traditional owners were also concerned about the large number of applications that were coming in to access the fragile, arid environment.
Land owners are already dealing with a significant introduced weed management issue in the area and are concerned about further environmental damage arising from high volumes of unregulated vehicle access. There are also many sacred sites in the area of considerable sensitivity.
The trust is Aboriginal freehold land, and like any freehold land, the owners have the right to refuse entry to people if they wish.
CLC Director David Ross said that was the traditional owners’ decision.
“This is the very essence of the Land Rights Act. Traditional landowners have every right to make this decision about their land. Some people might not like it but I can assure them that if it happened on a pastoral property they wouldn’t get access either," he said.
“Sections of the media gave the CLC a hard time over it but that’s the way it is and if people don’t like Aboriginal people exercising the same rights as any other property owner then they should go and live somewhere else.”
While the level of interest has been overwhelming for traditional owners on this occasion, the CLC has received constructive approaches from people inside the bird watching fraternity interested in establishing a more manageable process, something the CLC is open to discussing.
Watarrka and West MacDonnell national parks and Tnorala (Gosse) Bluff Conservation Reserve are also reported to be possible sites to see the parrot and places where permits are not required.