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Perceptive, perspicacious wildlife publishing

In this issue, the final of our 60th year retrospectives, we discover again just how perceptive and perspicacious the founders and contributors to the Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland and its national magazine, Wildlife Australia, really were.

Even though the four founders of Wildlife Australia magazine – poet and conservationist Judith Wright; newspaper columnist and conservation science leader David Fleay; natural flora artist Kathleen McArthur; and Jacaranda Press publisher, Brian Clouston – were breaking new ground in conservation, it is only with 60 years of hindsight that we can see just what a significant lead they were taking.

Yes, this was a magazine venture designed to inform, educate and – perhaps that most effective publishing tool of all – entertain readers about Australia’s remarkable wildlife. But by Volume 1, Issue 4, March 1964, it was already describing scenarios of key habitat and species decline to which governments, in general, seemed oblivious.

Take the Editorial – unsigned and uncredited, as that era of journalism demanded. It was probably written by Judith Wright with much input from Dr David Fleay. It is powerful and designed to re-set the way governments of the time perceived the role of national parks.

It is frustrating and ironic that much of what the Editorial warns about remains a threat to Australian wildlife conservation …

“Why do we need wildlife reserves and National Parks? This is the first question that needs to be answered clearly in such a movement. Too many National Parks administrators over-stress the tourist angle.”

The Editorial call in this edition, to greatly expand national parks so they are havens for natural habitats that can be not only protected but also studied, is still being made today by the WPSQ – now known better by its short form: Wildlife Queensland.

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