IN SEPTEMBER 2012 I visited Duncan and Judy Fysh’s property “Proa,” east of Julia Creek — named after the Malaysian seagoing canoes that littered the coastline when Matthew Flinders circumnavigated the coastline hundreds of years ago.
Proa was a 17,000 acre sheep and cattle property which reeked of history — Duncan (pictured above) is the nephew of Sir Hudson Fysh, the founder of Qantas.
Aquaculture was also being introduced to the property, with huge ponds filled with North Queensland crayfish, a native of the Gulf of Carpentaria.
His wife, Judy (pictured right), was heavily involved with the QCWA in the area.
Duncan had invited me to the property to discuss an environmental catastrophe in the making: “The government admits to 18 million feral cats, and they eat between four and six native animals/birds each night.
“That can be up to 100,000 million per night,” he expounded emphatically. “The environment can’t handle it.
“These cats can live in the desert without water because they get enough moisture out of what they eat on a daily basis.”
Duncan told at the time that he captured 460 cats in one bore drain over a particular two days.
Now retired from the land, and living in retirement in Julia Creek, I again met with Duncan and Judy during the annual conference of the QCWA in Gladstone recently, where Judy was a delegate from the north-west region.
And it didn’t take long for Duncan to broach a subject he finds environmentally important: feral cats — and they’re still an issue.
Previous story: Environmental bigotry root cause of an expanding feral cat problem.
To emphasise his argument, he asked to write an article so that Agalert readers can understand the critical plight of native fauna is in Australia.
He began: “I believe the pressure on our fauna started 1,000 to 2,000 years ago when the Dav Indians — the long-haired aboriginals — introduced the Indian jackal (the dingo) into Australia. We are told that Captain Cook then introduced the pigs, and to top it all off, the English brought their cats and many breeds of dogs which crossed with the dingo — ultimately creating a very savage killing machine.”
Duncan writes that in the 1860s, when the sheep and cattle people spread-out across the outback, they started putting-in permanent water with bores and dams, making it easy for the feral animals to spread into the areas where they had never been before.
“This is one reason the kangaroos are now in plague proportions. To top all this off, in 1935 we introduced the cane toad, which has killed much of our fauna, especially goannas and snakes; hopefully our fauna will learn to live with the cane toad.
“Some politicians never learn,” he laments.
“We must stop the introduction of more animals that can turn feral,” Duncan continues.
“The recent introduction of a Bengal cat, which can survive in the Wet Tropics — where other cats prefer dry areas of Australia — would have a devastating result on our native fauna if allowed to become feral.
“Feral cats are the number one killer of our fauna — eating between four and six little animals every night. It has been estimated that 20 million feral cats exist in Australia at the moment — this equates to 100,000,000 of our fauna dying every night 365 days of the year.
“This can only mean the extinction of much of our fauna in a very short space of time,” Duncan writes — “some are near extinction already.
He is adamant that eradication of feral cats and strict control of domestic cats must happen now, otherwise future generations will only be able to see our native fauna in a zoo.
“Eradication of cats can be achieved by the release of a virus, which I believe is already available — much like the virus that controlled the rabbits,” he notes.
“We need the politicians to take responsibility for ‘their’ feral animals instead of saying it is the responsibility of the landowner and Local Government.
“Graziers did not introduce these animals, so why is it our responsibility alone to get rid of them. It is the duty of every Australian, not just the people on the land, to save our fauna from extinction.”
Duncan Fysh implores all Australians to lobby their politicians now and ask him or her to eradicate feral cats — our fauna’s number one enemy.
- Duncan Fysh has undertaken to keep Agalert informed of developments in the feral cat and wild dog populations in the north-west.