Assessing Traditional Dugong Hunt, Torres Strait

In northern Australia the traditional owners of Torres Strait enjoy a continuing statutory Traditional Right to hunt the dugong (Sirenidae) but data on the hunt are sparse and stock status is uncertain. The project was to synthesise all available information and develop a most likely assessment in the form of interactive colour computer graphics software for interpretation by traditional hunters and their communities. The project involved gathering anecdotal information and assembling a plausible density dependence mechanism for dugong based on reproductive studies over a wide range of densities. The project was granted a privileged glimpse of the deep knowledge of dugong herd behaviour possessed by the Torres Strait hunters. It is hoped that the education provided by the rudimentary assessment in interactive computer software will facilitate local communities improving management and data collection.

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