As per a study conducted by anthropologists, the practice of aboriginal Martu people of Australia which involves setting small grass fires to catch lizards has actually enhanced kangaroo populations. The Martu people have been following this practice for at least 2000 years to expose burrows dug by 2-foot-long sand monitor lizards, which they then drag from the holes, cook and eat. The fires set by these people average about 10 acres. A researcher found such human-made disruption boosts kangaroo populations – showing how co-evolution helped marsupials and made Aborigines into unintentional conservationists.
It has been found that the same land becomes the breeding ground for different types of vegetation, aiding kangaroos. For instance, the marsupials hide from predators such as dingoes in older bush grass and consume shoots and fruits in areas of younger vegetation.
The findings, published online today in the journal Human Ecology, suggest that Australia might want to encourage small-scale burning to bolster wildlife populations in certain areas. The study concludes: “To be successful, management schemes should facilitate traditional burning and hunting regimes in remote communities, and incorporate this traditional ecological practice into future management protocols.”