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Aussies Could Use Elephants To Fight Invasive Species

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the we're-gonna-need-bigger-needle-snakes dept.

Australia 274

A type of invasive African grass is a major cause of wildfires in Australia. The giant gamba grass is too large for cattle and the native marsupial grazers to eat, but David Bowman, a professor of environmental change biology at the University of Tasmania has a plan. He says that elephants or rhinoceroses could eat the pest grass. "... the only other methods likely to control gamba grass involve using chemicals or physically clearing the land, which would destroy the habitat. Using mega-herbivores may ultimately be more practical and cost-effective, and it would help to conserve animals that are threatened by poaching in their native environments," he said. This plan makes you wonder just how big a Chinese needle snake can grow.

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And in the winter... (5, Funny)

Megane (129182) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901157)

...the Elephants simply starve to death.

Re:And in the winter... (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901175)

What winter? :p

Re:And in the winter... (2)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901291)

Yes there is that problem.

Re:And in the winter... (3, Funny)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901243)

You mean summer?

Re:And in the winter... (5, Funny)

Bill Currie (487) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901269)

Australia has two seasons: summer (August, though for some strange reason, Australians insist on calling it winter) and "I'd rather be in hell" (the rest of the year). Except in Melbourne: all four seasons in one day.

Re:And in the winter... (5, Interesting)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901551)

Sydney has a freezing winter rain in summer and the air turns into a wall of white water. You get just as wet from the rain as you do from the humidity. The only difference is if you have your sunnies on or not.

Then someone turns the weather switch and while that toggle switch goes from winter to summer or visa versa the day will be maybe hot maybe dry maybe rain maybe cold, the only difference is it will be that way all day after you've left for work you either carry your jacket and wear your sunnies or you wear your sunnies and carry your jacket. But don't dare open an umbrella or the wind will rip it to pieces or sudden lightning reduce it a hole in the ground with some molten metal and the remains of one of your shoes. Deodourant companies are listed on the commodities market.

Then winter is so dry that your lips skin and hands dry and crack and you suddenly get two days of summer in winter.

Except when it's the other way around and it pours the freezing winter rain in winter and summer is so dry that everything everywhere is so flammable that if the reflection of your sunglasses hits the ground at the wrong angle the whole place goes up in flames.

The fire warning signs read something like (This is not a joke) Normal, High, Dangerous, Extremely dangerous, catastrophic. I almost feel it is appropriate to have them add "We're all gonna die" or "save the children" in case some people don't understand the point.

Other than that the weather here is wonderful, I'm sure the elephants will have a great time.

Re:And in the winter... (5, Funny)

vgerclover (1186893) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901627)

Skinner: Well, I was wrong. The lizards are a godsend.
Lisa: But isn't that a bit short-sighted? What happens when we're overrun by lizards?
Skinner: No problem. We simply release wave after wave of Chinese needle snakes. They'll wipe out the lizards.
Lisa: But aren't the snakes even worse?
Skinner: Yes, but we're prepared for that. We've lined up a fabulous type of gorilla that thrives on snake meat.
Lisa: But then we're stuck with gorillas!
Skinner: No, that's the beautiful part. When wintertime rolls around, the gorillas simply freeze to death.

http://www.snpp.com/episodes/5F22 [snpp.com] Bart the mother

End game (5, Insightful)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901161)

But who will eat the elephants when they become invasive?

Re:End game (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38901169)

Is elephant meat tasty ?

Re:End game (5, Insightful)

el3mentary (1349033) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901179)

Elephants breed so slowly their numbers would be incredibly easy to control

Re:End game (4, Interesting)

Chatsubo (807023) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901277)

Well the horrible truth is they'll get poached out much quicker than they can breed. Keeping something like a rhino alive in such close proximity to the east might be a challenge that outweighs the benefits.

Re:End game (5, Interesting)

admiralranga (2007120) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901487)

Getting a license for something that can kill an elephant in aus, you make me laugh.

Re:End game (3, Insightful)

Chatsubo (807023) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901597)

Poachers who care about licenses, you make me laugh.

I live in Africa, putting a rhino on a piece of land almost transforms it into a war zone. International trade in ivory/rhino horn is a big deal, no mere legal red tape is going to stop these guys. Neither do they mind much if they have to shoot some rangers to get to the animals, and so the arms escalation begins...

Re:End game (4, Informative)

Inda (580031) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901455)

I know this thread has been about giggles but one thing seems to have been missed.

Its been proposed that the elephants are sterilised first.

Re:End game (5, Informative)

agentgonzo (1026204) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901545)

+5 insightful? Funny I could understand.

Kruger park has a massive over-population of elephants. It has a carrying-capacity (the number that the land-mass can sustainably support without being detrimental to the ecosystem) of about 8,000 elephants and now has over 20,000 (and still rising) causing major problem (both ecologically and politically as to how to reduce the numbers without resulting to a mass-cull).

Contraception is not exactly feasible on a large-scale (it's been tried successfully on small reserves such as Makalali) but the problem of finding and contracepting all/most of the animals in the wild and making sure that you've not contracepted the same animal twice in one period (major health issues for the animal) is almost impossible.

Re:End game (4, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901191)

Eat them, I don't know... but hunt them to extinction should be no problem at all, they're not exactly small and hard to spot. The more problematic bits would be if they've brought microbes with them, upset the balance of nature some other way etc. - it's a gamble with very many variables...

That really depends... (5, Funny)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901249)

[...]they're not exactly small and hard to spot. [...]

If they wear red socks, and hide in a strawberry patch, they're quite hard to spot!

Re:That really depends... (1)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901565)

[...]they're not exactly small and hard to spot. [...]

If they wear red socks, and hide in a strawberry patch, they're quite hard to spot!

They leave footprints in the butters

Re:That really depends... (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901587)

Heh, reminds me of this one...

Q: How do you know an elephant is hiding under your bed?
A: Your nose is touching the ceiling....

Re:That really depends... (1)

wisty (1335733) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901647)

Q: What do you do if an elephant comes through your window?

A: Swim!

Re:That really depends... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38901599)

If they paint their toenails red they can hide in cherry trees!

And if they paint their feet yellow... (1)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901633)

They can hide upside-down in a bowl of custard (the French will not understand this.)

Re:End game (1)

agentgonzo (1026204) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901567)

upset the balance of nature some other way etc. - it's a gamble with very many variables...

The normal way that they upset the balance of nature is trampling lots of the ecosystem and eating so much of everything that it wipes out food/habitat for pretty much everything. If left to grow beyond a small number, they are detrimental to the ecosystem. And that's in areas where they are native. It could probably rid Australia of the acacias though (they love them)

Re:End game (4, Funny)

deniable (76198) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901193)

Cane toads.

Re:End game (1)

daktari (1983452) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901539)

Cane toads.

... risk being trampled by these big creatures.

Re:End game (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38901215)

But who will eat the elephants when they become invasive?

They plan to sterilize the beasts, and track them with GPS.

Plan B involves reintroducing the T Rex, as seen on the documentary Jurassic Park.

Re:End game (3, Interesting)

michelcolman (1208008) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901375)

So partly to help conserve these animals, they are going to transfer them from their native habitat and sterilize them?

Re:End game (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38901217)

tastes like chicken?

Re:End game (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901307)

tastes like chicken?

Listen to them cackle.

Re:End game (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901315)

But who will eat the elephants when they become invasive?

I'm more worried about what they'll decide to eat instead of the gamba grass. What if they develop a taste for kangaroos... or kittens?

Re:End game (1)

qwak23 (1862090) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901403)

I will, or at least I will try it once.

As it is, Australia tends to serve quite a large variety of meats compared to most of the other countries I've been to.

Granted, in some of those countries I don't necessarily ask (This has nothing to do with not wanting to know, I have no bias as to which animal I am eating*), I just assume the label is correct. I've also had plenty of things that accoridng to the menu (at least the english menu) just contained "meat". At least the Australians advertise what they are serving.

*With the exception of homo sapiens

Re:End game (1)

queBurro (1499731) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901445)

ho hum, what if the elephants actually do ok? but they poo everywhere and some fly we've not considered thrives on that? suddenly! flies everywhere (again, a la the problem they had when they introduced cattle)

Re:End game (1)

thereitis (2355426) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901483)

The world would be a much better place if we had another 50,000 elephants and rhinos, both of which are endangered species and predicted to disappear in the next couple decades.

I Don't Know Why We Swallowed The Fly (3, Funny)

SQL Error (16383) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901163)

Perhaps we'll die...

Elephant Proof Fence (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38901183)

So there was this fence that was supposed to prevent the plague of rabbits from crossing the country. I don't think it worked. I'm having this vision of a future with an Elephant proof fence. Somehow the idea appeals.

Re:Elephant Proof Fence (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901229)

Myxomatosis did the job very well though.

Re:Elephant Proof Fence (2)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901279)

No it didn't.

Re:Elephant Proof Fence (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901299)

Yes it did. It didn't do the job perfectly, but the rabbit population has never returned to what it was pre-myxomatosis.

Re:Elephant Proof Fence (3, Informative)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901467)

"Yes it did. It didn't do the job perfectly, but the rabbit population has never returned to what it was pre-myxomatosis."

Exactly, it worked even here in Europe and we had no problems in the first place.
A french moron wanted to get rid of the rabbits on his property and infected _2_ of them.
Now all of Europe has almost none left.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myxomatosis [wikipedia.org]

Re:Elephant Proof Fence (2)

norpy (1277318) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901303)

Yes it did, it just didn't do it completely - and the remaining population has now been selected for resistance.

It's the exact same problem we have with antibiotics

Re:Elephant Proof Fence (1)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901589)

Yes it did, it just didn't do it completely - and the remaining population has now been selected for resistance.

It's the exact same problem we have with antibiotics

Yeah, but at least the aboriginals finally thought the white man did something right for a change. Now foxes,,,,,,uuurrh foxes

Invasive species (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38901199)

This is why I put a mongoose in my mailbox to get rid of the snakes. Now if I could only figure out why I have snakes in my mailbox.

Re:Invasive species (2)

Ol Biscuitbarrel (1859702) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901333)

Are you getting sick and tired of them?

I'm warning you ... (0)

tdelaney (458893) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901203)

It'll be cane toads all over again ...

Alternatives? (1, Insightful)

flyneye (84093) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901205)

How about cutting and baling the grass? Process it for feed or fuel. Use it in lieu of paper in insulating concrete.Maybe the Aborigines can find a use for it. Once you've mown it and can access the roots, THEN whip out a jug of Roundup. What really is the problem here? Lack of imagination? Will it distill into alcohol with a bit of sugar? Is there an industrial furnace powering anything anywhere near? Are we really scared of the mean ol zombie grass slowly moving this way? I think someone just wants to be a drama queen about this....

Re:Alternatives? (4, Insightful)

robbak (775424) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901283)

You've obviously never been to australia. Hint - it's very big.

Wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38901425)

it's very big

No. It is fricking HUGE. Bigger than several European countries. There are single *properties* here are bigger than some countries.

So, when someone here says 'we have a widespread problem' - start thinking 'a problem the size of a several US states' ...

Actually, the elephant idea is quite good.

As for the other suggestion.. no. The aboriginals have no use for it.. or anything really. They drink^Wget their blood^Wdole money and are buggered^Whappy .. no use for the grass at all.. well, not this type of Grass anyway

Re:Wrong (1)

dkf (304284) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901541)

Bigger than several European countries.

Doesn't count. Europe has some stupidly small countries, some of which are smaller than cities. Heck, some would fit in a good-sized shopping mall. Saying that Australia is bigger than that... well, no shit Sherlock.

Re:Wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38901611)

ok - let me expain it another way - there is a police district that is assigned three [count-em] THREE police-officers. The geographical size of this district is similar to that of France.

Re:Alternatives? (1)

JTsyo (1338447) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901595)

well it is a continent.

Re:Alternatives? (1)

Talderas (1212466) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901331)

I am intrigued by your concept of zombie grass. Please write up a report on it and submit it to my desk before 3pm so that I may review it for further defense funding.

Re:Alternatives? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38901435)

I don't think you understand geographical scale in Australia. Let me explain. The distance between the city of Perth and the closest city is 2695 kilometers [or about 1,675 miles]. (If you don't beleive me check out http://www.travelaroundaustralia.com/travelling-around-australia.html) There are no cities on the way [and only one biggish town]. The distance from Adelaide to Darwin [right through the middle of Austalia] is 1,881 miles - with zero cities and not even any big towns on the way. These two driving routes have only 1 possible road. In between there is milions of square miles of extremely sparsely populated (if populated at all) desert. Most of this grass would be growing in areas that are hundreds of miles from the nearest surfaced road that doesn't require 4 wheel drives and serious survival gear to drive on. There is no way to get the stuff to market even if you could find a use for it. And there is lots and lots of it. To give you a sense of the size of the problem - There was a grass fire the size of tasmania last year [see article at http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2012/02/02/3420810.htm]. Tasmania is 26 409 square miles.

Déjà vu? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38901209)

Ammm... we tried this before with Cane Toads... that didn't work out so well. At least elephants are cuter (and tastier).

or rabbits, (4, Funny)

Zemran (3101) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901211)

yes rabbits would be a good idea. They are smaller and cuter than elephants and they eat grass as well...

Re:or rabbits, (1)

Obble (1680532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901255)

Rabbits are a very bad idea. They were a great pest in Australia and New Zealand, they stripped clear alot of land. Then Australia got a rabbit virus which killed alot of rabbits. The NZ government band the import of the virus to kill the rabbits in NZ because they feared once it was loose it couldn't stop it killing the native birds. (no study was yet to carried out to test if it could jump spices) Then after about a month, the virus magically (air new zealand/quantus) jumped over the ditch (tasman sea) and then the rabbit plage was over in a few weeks. It was great for the framers and no native kiwis or birds died. NZ gov was a bit pissed off :-P

I like elephants idea, they wont go wild due to slow breeding, we already have cammles in the outback. and if they get too popular like the kangaroos we would soon see them in the meet section of Coles/Woolworths (local super markets).

Re:or rabbits, (1)

sirdude (578412) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901377)

You certainly sound like you know your weed.

P.S. *whoosh*

Re:or rabbits, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38901497)

(no study was yet to carried out to test if it could jump spices).

it's always about the spice, isn't it?

(captcha: incense)

Gamba Grass was intentionally introduced ... (5, Informative)

sirdude (578412) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901231)

Gamba grass first appeared under cultivation in Queensland in 1942 and trials and plantings in the Northern Territory occurred as early as 1931. It was bred as an improved pasture species and sold by seed merchants. Gamba grass has adapted extremely well to the seasonal droughts, fires and low-nutrient soils of Australia’s savannas.

From here [qld.gov.au] [PDF].

Re:Gamba Grass was intentionally introduced ... (5, Funny)

HBI (604924) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901423)

FFS who would name a plant something like Andropogon gayanus ?

And as an added bonus... (3, Funny)

Phoenix (2762) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901235)

The elephants can be used to stomp on the caine toads.

Re:And as an added bonus... (3, Funny)

sirdude (578412) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901393)

One stomp too many and those Caines will surely turn mutinous.

Toads and more (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38901429)

The elephants will certainly keep Australia free of the dangerously invasive BURNING DUCKS.

Re:And as an added bonus... (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901465)

Don't do that! In Australia, the Caine Toads are sacred. Australians believe that when you die, you get reborn as an Amphibian.

If you look at some of the Google Street View photos, you can see Aussie kids picking up toads like a phone and licking them. It's actually a pretty handy way to ask your great-grandmother for her special Pavlova cake recipe, just before the guests arrive for the BBQ.

And then the elephants become the invasive species (0)

rollingcalf (605357) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901271)

Bringing in one species to eliminate another tends to result in the newly introduced species becoming the invasive one.

Re:And then the elephants become the invasive spec (1)

AlecC (512609) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901329)

Except that I don't think it would be too hard to control, or even wipe out, the elephants. They are not little critters that hide in holes, and they have a slow reproductive rate, unlike rabbits which breed...

But... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38901285)

But, who will eat the elephants ?

Re:But... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38901353)

OK, since I've posted, I've got a brilliant idea: control the elephants by introducing mice!

Need more dangerous animals (2)

RogueyWon (735973) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901293)

I thought the whole "Got a problem with invasive species x? Import invasive species y!" schtick had gone wrong so many times over the years that there would be more caution about it now.

What are they going to import in 30 years time to deal with the plague of elephants? My vote's for genetically modified, cybernetically enhanced fire-breating giant battle-centipedes. What could possibly go wrong?

Or maybe the attraction is that elephants can actually be extremely dangerous to humans [wikipedia.org] . Australia just doesn't have enough animals like that, right?

Re:Need more dangerous animals (5, Informative)

Kierthos (225954) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901349)

Let's see. The gestation period of an elephant is 21-23 months. The interval between calves is as much as five years. And female elephants generally don't even begin reproducing until they are 12-14 years old.

I somehow doubt there will be a plague of elephants. What I imagine would happen is a lot of poached elephants.

Re:Need more dangerous animals (5, Funny)

tdelaney (458893) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901405)

What I imagine would happen is a lot of poached elephants.

Nah - the traditional method is to barbeque them.

Re:Need more dangerous animals (1)

Kierthos (225954) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901481)

Well played, sir.

However, throw another elephant on the barbie.... wow... think of the structural engineering that would require.

Re:Need more dangerous animals (1)

agentgonzo (1026204) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901601)

Tell that to Kruger park. It's big enough to sustainable support about 8,000 elephants (carrying capacity) but has over 20,000 now and rising dramatically.

Re:Need more dangerous animals (1)

Stormthirst (66538) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901361)

What are they going to import? 50 cal hunting rifles.

There's a reason why Elephants are a endangered species in Africa - they don't breed very quickly. If you allow the locals to keep the tusks (ie no imports or exports), I imagine they'd be wiped out pretty quickly.

Re:Need more dangerous animals (1)

agentgonzo (1026204) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901625)

No, the reason that they're endangered is because they have ivory and got hunted to the brink of extinction. That combined with the fact that they are pushed away from human habitation so areas they can live are being reduced.

And sharks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38901305)

with lasers!

Re:And sharks (1)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901641)

with lasers!

Don't talk about sharks this season. Even if you dared going into the abnormally cold water this summer chances are a shark would discover that humans don't taste very good after sampling your leg...

how about more people? (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901311)

Rather then fill the outback with yet another untested and likely useless species. Why don't they just put more people out there?

Build a few more cities or towns... expand... tame the wilderness. If people actually live out there then any undesired species isn't going to last very long.

Re:how about more people? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38901363)

Rather then fill the outback with yet another untested and likely useless species, why don't they just put more people out there?

Wait.. having fixed punctiation, isn't this statement self-contradicting?

Re:how about more people? (3, Informative)

JasterBobaMereel (1102861) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901447)

Have you been to Australia?

The majority of people live in big sprawling cities by the coast, for the reason that the rest of the country is an arid desert ...

Any city built inland would run out of water very quickly .... Imagine Las Vegas, but without a water supply ...

Re:how about more people? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38901451)

You're absolutely brilliant. Instead of introducing a species that will have severe problems growing let alone thriving, you want to introduce humans. A species that replicates and is more destructive than swarms of locusts. Pure genius ...

Resources - Water (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38901515)

Well, water for a start

Right now there are land developers desperate to add new suburbs to several small towns.. but those towns are already stressed for water.. and in QLD they are now *under* water. Go figure.

Around here, it's either so dry and parched that we literally can't support more people without lots of pipes (been done, wikipedia snowy mountains scheme if you are interested) or the place is flooded.

It's a good idea.. but seriously. the outback isn't a place most people want to live.

Let's put it like this. We have a problem right now that people on the other side of the world pay lots of money to get on a leaky boat to come here.
A suggestion for fixing this problem is to open the gates. Come right in. Anyone from a war torn country, middle east, wherever, come on over if you can get yourself here. Only catch: You must spend the first 15 years here in a rural outback town or property and not come within 200km of a city.
It's thought to be the best way to 'solve' the country shopper / boat people / illegal immigrant problem.

After 1 week in the outback.. you'd fully understand why.

However, if you don't quite understand, try this:
In the middle of summer, go live on your roof for a week, take 1L of water with you, to last the week, and 4 boxes of plain muesli bars and a big hat.
Some things you just have to experience for yourself to understand.

Re:how about more people? (1)

oldunixgeek (2476796) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901517)

People are the ultimate invasive species. Even Antarctica can't get rid of em.

Re:how about more people? (1)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901613)

Rather then fill the outback with yet another untested and likely useless species. Why don't they just put more people out there?

Build a few more cities or towns... expand... tame the wilderness. If people actually live out there then any undesired species isn't going to last very long.

And during the day people can go to the petrol station and see if any of the numbers have changed...

Why all the bother? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38901335)

There is a natural, indiginous, carbon-neutral, fast, effective, efficient, cheap and fun way of dealing with this problem: Set fire to it.

Re:Why all the bother? (2)

Muad'Dave (255648) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901553)

To quote from the Aus gov't PDF on Gamba grass [qld.gov.au] :

Gamba grass is tolerant to fire at any time of the year.
Burning gamba grass in the dry season can be hazardous
to property, people and livestock due to the high fuel
loads and height of the plants, which create an extremely
intense fire.

Sounds harmless enough, but... (1)

jenningsthecat (1525947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901357)

...I'm sure that gamba grass itself seemed harmless too when it was introduced to Australia as a pasture grass. Then there were Cane Toads, (also in Australia), Kudzu, and countless other examples.

Given man's mobility and restlessness such occurrences are probably inevitable. At least this time the assertion that "this introduction could solve that problem" was accompanied by a note that careful monitoring would be required. So there's some effort being made to anticipate and mitigate the potential negative consequences of their solutions, but I suspect that effort could be both more strenuous and more anticipatory.

Uhh, goats? (1)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901415)

I mean, Elephants are f***ing awesome and all, big, giant things that knock over trees when they get mad, but goats are well proven to eat grass and other things (like briers) that most animals won't touch. They handle dry, arid climates well, and provide other useful things like, Milk, Cheese, Meat, and Pelts. If you pick angora goats you get fancy wool from them as well.
 
Granted, you don't have the cool factor of big-ass elephants running around loose Down Under, but goats reproduce a lot faster and (I'm pretty sure) eat a higher percentage of their body weight in plant matter than elephants do. Humans also have a couple thousand years more experience dealing with goats.
 
Some links to persue:
 
 

Re:Uhh, goats? (1)

JasterBobaMereel (1102861) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901463)

The thing Australia is lacking that goats need is water ...

The Elephants are few enough in number that it can be supplied, and they can be managed to only eat the invasive species, goats eat everything ...

Re:Uhh, goats? (1)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901543)

How do you train a 12 ton animal to only eat what you want it to?
 
Waiting for some really good ex-wife jokes, slashdot, please don't dissapoint

Re:Uhh, goats? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38901525)

There are so few people out there that this shouldn't be a problem. Seriously - very very very few.

Re:Uhh, goats? (3, Informative)

Alicat1194 (970019) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901585)

I mean, Elephants are f***ing awesome and all, big, giant things that knock over trees when they get mad, but goats are well proven to eat grass and other things (like briers) that most animals won't touch. They handle dry, arid climates well, and provide other useful things like, Milk, Cheese, Meat, and Pelts. If you pick angora goats you get fancy wool from them as well.

Been there, done that they went feral : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feral_goats_in_Australia [wikipedia.org] . Though some farmers to make a fair living off mustering the ferals and then selling them for pelts and meat.

Last chance for black rhino? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38901431)

Just speculating but... would Australian law enforcement (and cultural attitudes) be more conducive to the prevention of poaching? If so, then it might be a good location for an animal refuge for some critically endangered species.

Rhinos! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38901439)

Elephants are very far from endangered in Southern Africa. There are way too many of them, to the extent that their numbers have to be actively controlled by culling entire herds. Elephants are dangerous and cause huge amounts of damage.

On the other hand, black rhinos are being poached at an alarming rate, and they are on the brink of destruction. Australia is probably a much, much safer place for them -- so the Aussies should import as many of them as possible!

Somehow I know David Bowman... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38901457)

Didn't he fly to Jupiter together with an psychopatic supercomputer?

I'm dissapointed in the commenters so far... (1)

MrMonty (366322) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901477)

Whenever he asked a cow or native marsupial about eating the grass, they replied:

"I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that."

Good luck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38901521)

Good luck getting a Rhino population in Oz, that close to Chinese borders they'd be shot and de-horned before they've made it out of the container.

Most obvious question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38901529)

Can that grass be smoked? :o

Obligatory... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38901603)

As an inhabitant of the Australian sub-continent, I for one welcome our new elephant overlords!

Why can't they just burn the grass? (1)

JTsyo (1338447) | more than 2 years ago | (#38901605)

oh wait...
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