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"I'm really excited about this particular aspect of my PhD
because it will be an excellent experience to work with these
animals in their native habitat, and carnivores in general,"
"With 15 of the world's large carnivores under significant threat
and some predicted to become extinct within the next couple
of decades, my view is why wait until they're extinct -- why not
try and address things now before it reaches that point."
Nikki Anderson has grown up around
dogs her entire life -- albeit the
Following a keen interest in carnivores she has developed
an ambitious plan to help the plight of Africa's second-most
endangered carnivore, the Painted Dog (Lycaon pictus), as part
of a PhD project at Flinders University.
"I've been animal-centric my whole life," Mrs Anderson said.
"But I first became interested in Painted Dogs while working
on a collaborative project between Flinders University and
ZoosSA in 2008 when deploying satellite GPS collars on feral
camels in the Gibson Desert," she said.
"It was here, listening to the howl of wild dingoes at night and
a campfire discussion, that the seed for developing a project
on this lesser-known but important canid had been planted."
In recent decades the number of Painted Dogs in the wild has
significantly declined from a population of about 250,000
across the African continent to about 3,000.
Habitat loss and fragmentation, competition with other
predators, susceptibility to disease, small population sizes
and human influences such as snaring and persecution are all
responsible for the decline.
In Australasia there are only nine zoos that hold Painted Dogs
in captivity, with the two ZoosSA sites collectively having the
largest regional population, including 24 dogs at Monarto Zoo
and five at Adelaide Zoo.
Under her PhD project, Mrs Anderson aims to address a
number of criteria that would put the region in a better
position to consider developing a reintroduction program for
this endangered carnivore.
The criteria, set by the International Union for Conservation of
Nature (IUCN), include a range of biological, socio-economic
and legal requirements as well as plans for release and
"While it's not my plan to personally reintroduce them
into the wild, I do want to address some of the biological
requirements outlined by the IUCN," Mrs Anderson said.
"Then hopefully one day they can be bred in captivity for a
potential release," she said.
Providing greater linkage between "in situ" and "ex situ"
conservation is another important element of the study,
Mrs Anderson said.
The ex situ, or captive, aspect of her project focuses on the
genetics of the Australasian Painted Dog population and a
trial into the effectiveness of a vaccine for Canine Parvovirus
as they are taxonomically distinct from domestic dogs.
A study trip to Africa is also being planned for late next year to
improve conservation efforts for in situ, or wild, Painted Dogs
between Zambia and Malawi, building upon the existing
work being conducted by the Zambia Carnivore Programme.
Nikki Anderson and a Painted Dog
into the state from over 20 Thinkers and translated them
into practical solutions. One example is Herbert Girardet,
whose residency on greening Adelaide has seen impressive
action on reducing our carbon footprint and soil erosion and
increasing bio-diversity. Another is Baroness Professor Susan
Greenfield whose residency initiated various programs designed
to improve the scientific literacy of South Australians and
encourage young people to embrace careers in science.
Mr Rann identified collaboration as a key component of the
Thinkers program, facilitating the value-adding benefit of this
investment. He continued by commending the collaboration
between Flinders University and Flinders Medical Centre in
establishing the Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer which
incorporates the LIVESTRONG Cancer Research Centre. Mr Rann
stated that this facility "will lead Australia in pioneering the
early diagnosis, prevention, treatment survivability and support
for people with cancer".
Mr Rann concluded by highlighting the importance of
embracing new ideas in order to move forward by declaring,
"we cannot let the relentless local clobbering machine, run by
minority vested interests, to force South Australia to retreat
once more into quiet complacency, or to accept genteel decline".
Same-sex marriages is an idea whose time had well and truly
arrived, according to South Australia's second longest serving
Premier, Mike Rann. In one of his final addresses, the outgoing
South Australian Premier voiced his support for legalising
same-sex marriages when he delivered Flinders University's
Investigator Lecture, Charting a Course for Change: The Politics
of Progress. Mr Rann urged the Australian Parliament to amend
the Marriage Act to provide full legal equality for homosexual
"It is, quite simply, unfair to prevent same-sex couples from
having their relationship -- a union that is viewed as equal in
every other aspect of the law -- being recognised as a legal
marriage...it is time that we recognise the validity of all genuine
long-term relationships," Premier Rann said.
The Premier said such change would ensure Australia's
reputation as a progressive and inclusive nation, characteristics
of visionary former South Australian Premier Don Dunstan's
reign. Mr Rann highlighted the many reforms initiated by the
Dunstan Government including South Australia becoming the
first state to grant Aboriginal land rights and the first to fully
decriminalise homosexuality in 1975, following the drowning
of law lecturer, George Duncan in the River Torrens. Mr Rann
highlighted that it was under Dunstan's lead that modern
multiculturalism flourished and his legacy enables us all to
celebrate our diversity in background, opinion and lifestyle.
According to Mr Rann, Don Dunstan's retirement "marked the
end of an era when our state was renowned not only for its
preparedness to embrace ideas and reform, but for its capacity
to transform them into practical reforms". He echoed Dunstan's
approach, advocating the importance of focusing on future
action and not reminiscing on past achievements. Mr Rann
likened his government with that of Dunstan's, declaring "upon
coming to office in 2002, our Government committed itself to
cultivating new ideas so that South Australia could once again
innovate and lead".
Mr Rann identified intellectual capital as a key asset his
government sought to build in order to secure the State's future
prosperity. Recognising the value of investing in this intangible
resource to help position the State as an intellectual hub, the
Rann Government implemented initiatives such as the Adelaide
Thinkers in Residence Program, which has "secured investment
worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and prompted many,
many changes to legislation".
The Adelaide Thinkers in Residence program, instigated over
eight years ago, has brought inspiring and innovative ideas
L-R: Associate Professor Robert Phiddian, Deputy Dean of Flinders
School of Humanities and Chair of the Adelaide Festival of Ideas
and Flinders University Lecturer, Barbara Hardy AO and Sandy
Verschoor, Executive Producer, Adelaide Festival of Ideas
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