Kakadu National Park

Term 3 Fragile Ecosystems Project: By Roshi Prasad

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Definition

3. Description and Key Characteristics

4. Flora

5. Fauna

6. Threats or Dangers and Possible Solutions

7. Other Facts

8. Bibliography

Kakadu National Park Project: Introduction/Definition

Kakadu National Park is an area of 19,804 square kilometres within the Alligator Rivers region of the Northern Territory. The park stretches 150 kilometres south from the coast to the southern hills and basins, and 120 kilometres east from the Arnhem Land sandstone plateau to its western boundary. (Figure 1)

The name 'Kakadu' comes from an Aboriginal floodplain language called Gagudju which was one of the languages spoken in the north of the park in the beginning of the twentieth century. Although languages such as Gagudju and Limilngan are no longer regularly spoken, descendants of these language groups are still living in Kakadu.

Aboriginal people believe that Kakadu was shaped by their spiritual ancestors during the Dreamtime. These ancestors, or 'first people', went across the country creating landforms, plants, animals and Bininj/Mungguy (Aboriginal people). They brought laws to live by with them; this included: ceremony, language, kinship and ecological knowledge. They taught Bininj/Mungguy how to live with the land and look after the country.

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Figure 1: Location of Kakadu National Park

Kakadu National Park Project: Description/Key Characteristics

Around 50 per cent of the land in Kakadu National Park is Aboriginal land under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976. The Aboriginal land in the park is held by Aboriginal Land Trusts, but the Land Trusts have leased their land to the Director of National Parks so that it can be used as a National Park for the enjoyment and benefit of all Australians.

This unique and ancient natural and cultural heritage has been recognized by the inscription of the park on the World Heritage List. Kakadu is one of only 22 World Heritage sites listed for both its natural and cultural heritage; it was also added to the National Heritage List in 2007. There are 5 main landforms and 6 seasons that have been identified in the Kakadu National Park (Tables 1 and 2).

Table 1: The Five Main Landforms of Kakadu National Park.

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Table 2: The 6 Seasons of Kakadu

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Kakadu National Park Project: Flora

Kakadu's flora is among the richest in Northern Australia and more than 2000 plant species have been recorded. This richness is a result of the park's geological, landform and habitat diversity. Kakadu is also considered to be one of the most weed free national parks in the world. The main flora found in each main landforms are shown in Table 3 and the endangered flora are listed in Table 4.

Table 3: The Main Flora Found in the 5 Landforms of Kakadu National Park

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Table 4: The Endangered Flora Species in Kakadu National Park

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Kakadu National Park Project: Fauna

The diverse environments of Kakadu National Park support an astonishing array of animals, a number of which have adapted to particular habitats. Some animals in the park are considered rare, endangered or endemic (not found anywhere else in the world). 26 species in Kakadu National Park are listed as nationally threatened (Table 5) .

Table 5: Nationally Threatened Species in Kakadu National Park

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Kakadu National Park Project: Threats or Dangers & Possible Solutions

Table 6: Threats or Dangers to Kakadu National Park and Possible Solutions

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Kakadu National Park Project: Endangered Animal Species of Kakadu National Park

Speartooth shark: Glyphis glyphis (critically endangered)

A medium sized whaler shark that has so far only been recorded in tidal rivers and estuaries within the Northern Territory and Queensland. Within the Northern Territory, the Speartooth Shark has been recorded in the Adelaide River, South, East and West Alligator Rivers, Murganella Creek and Marrakai Creek. In Queensland the Speartooth Shark has been found in the Wenlock and Ducie Rivers, Port Musgrave (the mouth of these two rivers) and the Bizant River.

The population size of the Speartooth Shark remains unknown, but is thought to be small based on current knowledge and the apparent rarity of the species. There have been estimations from the Threatened Species Scientific Commitee (TSSC) that there are significantly less than 250 mature individuals in the Bizant River in Queensland and the Alligator River in the Northern Territory.

The main threats to the Speartooth Shark are recreational line fishing, gillnetting and habitat degradation.

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Figure 2: Distribution of the Speartooth Shark is in red.