Emu Emu Society
Journal of BirdLife Australia

The Sustainable Utilisation of Birds

Alan Kemp

Emu 100(5) 355 - 365
Published: 2000


The association between hominids and birds extends back at least one million years. Birds have been and remain an important resource in many local communities. Historically, the Egyptian husbandry of birds was notably extensive, equivalent to the present utilisation of birds in hunting and domestication, especially in Europe, North America and Asia. The modern complexities of sustainable utilisation are demonstrated with a feasibility study from South Africa that involved the Makuleke community and the Kruger National Park. Harvest and reintroduction were tested for the undeniably sustainable resource of redundant second-hatched chicks of African Hawk-eagle Hieraaetus spilogaster, Milky Eagle-owl Bubo lacteus and Southern Ground Hornbill Bucorvus leadbeateri. The technique is feasible but the economic sustainability remains to be determined. Discussion is also presented on the modern concept of sustainable utilisation, the levels at which it can be practiced and the biological risks involved. The features of birds that affect their utilisation are considered and possible avenues for avian research presented, to enhance our knowledge of birds as potential resources and products. The overall emphasis is that biologists must make a proper evaluation of birds as a potential product, so that objective decisions are possible on whether or not to utilise birds as a sustainable resource.


© Royal Australian Ornithologists Union 2000

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