Convergence of culture, ecology, and ethics: Management of feral swamp buffalo in northern australia

This paper examines the identity of Asian swamp buffalo ( Bubalus bubalis ) from different value orientations. Buffalo were introduced into Northern (Top End) Australia in the early nineteenth century. A team of transdisciplinary researchers, including an ethicist, has been engaged in field research on feral buffalo in Arnhem Land over the past three years. Using historical documents, literature review, field observations, interviews with key informants, and interaction with the Indigenous land owners, an understanding of the diverse views on the scientific, cultural, and economic significance of buffalo was obtained. While the diverse stakeholders in buffalo exploitation and management have historically delivered divergent value orientations on the nature of the human–buffalo relationship, we argue that over time there is the possibility of values and ethical convergence. Such convergence is possible via transdisciplinary and transcultural agreement on the value stances that constitute the construction of the being or identity of buffalo in the face of the overwhelming need to manage population density and gross numbers.
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