For tens of thousands of years, the Aboriginal people of Australia lived in a deeply symbiotic relationship with nature. In what may seem like a contradiction, a recent study revealed how Aboriginal hunters use a particular method that increases the populations of the animals they hunt.
The study, published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, provided insights into how the indigenous people have maintained animal populations through ecosystem engineering and the co-evolution of animals and humans.
Aboriginals use a hunting method in which they use fire to clear areas of land to improve the search for game. This promotes regrowth that enhances the habitat, leading to an increase in the numbers of animals that are being hunted. For example, the populations of monitor lizards nearly double in areas where they are heavily hunted. Where there are no hunters, fires sparked by lightning storms spread over huge distances, landscapes are more homogenous and monitor lizards are rarer.