Time to cuddle a quokka?

A LONG-STANDING ban on the ownership of native animals as pets should be scrapped, says a prominent Noongar elder.

Noel Nannup says the policy change could lead to sandgropers raising quokkas, not cats, helping stem the nightly massacre of wildlife.

According to Australian Wildlife Conservancy, feral cats alone kill 75 million native animals every night.

With domestic moggies adding to the carnage, Mr Nannup says the benefits of native pet ownership are obvious.

“With the quokkas, after they are born they live in the pouch obviously but the first thing they see when they emerge from the pouch gets imprinted as their parent,” he says.

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“They follow you everywhere, and if you go far enough apart, they come running back to you.”

He says prospective owners could be trained and encouraged to plant native gardens to support their pets, which also reduces water wastage and entices native birds.

Mr Nannup’s also keen on people planting bush tucker, saying it’s better suited to the environment than introduced crops.

“The food is a no-brainer,” he says. “The grass trees provide so much food, and with the Xanthorrhoea each one provides 20 kilos of flour.” (It’s a lengthy process to remove toxins first, so don’t try it at home).

The elder’s vision is for a “shared journey” between all Western Australians so he donates his time to an organisation called Eartheart, which is holding a clean-up day with an indigenous bent at Woodman Point today (Saturday March 14).

The day starts at 8.30am with a smoking ceremony to remove bad spirits, Dreamtime stories, didgeridoo healing and an emu stalk.

Organiser Julia McKeowen, who hopes to hold regular cleanups around the city, says the ceremony seems to make it easier for volunteers to pick up litter later.

Ms McKeowen says Earthart aims to raise people’s consciousness about environmental issues and they’re planning a big focus on putting kids in contact with Noongars so knowledge about the bush can be carried forward.

“It’s about teaching future Australians to be the future custodians,” she says.

by STEVE GRANT

Davies First National 9x6

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