Colonialism and conservation: restoration, killing and tourism on Jabugay Yanooa/Pelorus Island

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Borderlands E-Journal: new spaces in the humanities, 2021, 20, (1), pp. 49-88
Issue Date:
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This article describes and analyses the Pelorus experiment, a recent restoration project in which dingoes were used to eradicate goats on a Great Barrier Reef Island. Before they were taken to the island, the dingoes were implanted with a poison capsule that was intended to kill them after they had killed the goats; they were both pest and ‘pesticide’ (Mavhunga 2011). Subsequently, freehold land on the island was marketed as a tourism development site. We contextualise the Pelorus Island goat eradication program within the cultural–political history of carceral colonialism in Australia and show how this experiment relates to ideas about the special role that islands play in conservation. We also piece together the story of what happened to the goats and dingoes involved. Our analysis reveals the ways notions of animal pesthood and ecological restoration are co-opted by conservation and tourism interests. The Pelorus experiment illustrates how illusions of idyllic island sanctuaries, which appeal to contemporary tourism tropes of seclusion within a ‘pristine’ environment, are predicated on the violence inherent to, but obfuscated within, settler-colonialist visions of land for the taking and remaking.
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