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Indigenous-led enterprise—

Cape York Conservation

Finding Indigenous-led solutions to land and sea

management had been a long-running priority in Cape

York when the Jawun partnership began. Regional

leaders wanted solutions that supported employment,

enterprise and access to country. To this end, Cape

York Partnerships set a project brief for a cohort of

secondees participating in a 12-month leadership

program within Westpac’s BT Financial Group to

bring a viable commercial lens to the region’s well-

conceived but stalling conservation agenda.

Feral pigs had brought the wetlands to the brink of

collapse and were a critical conservation issue for

traditional owners. Over a million pigs across

14 million hectares of Cape York had destroyed

native plant and animal species and were estimated

to have eaten 99% of turtle eggs. From a number of

unfeasible solutions, a potential answer emerged.

A scientist devised a method for making fertiliser out

of the liquefied carcasses of feral pigs and in 2015 the

secondees’ ‘Feraliser’ project was born.

They advanced a business plan and strategy to

establish Cape York Conservation (CYC), recognising

that a range of products were needed to address

feral pig abatement and other conservation

challenges. They implemented rigorous due diligence

processes, and created a portfolio of investor

pitches for Indigenous-led conservation priorities

including feral pig control, a junior ranger program

and cassowary research. The secondees developed

science-based enterprise opportunities such as

contracting for data collection and monitoring

services, and provision of science support services

(e.g. transport, accommodation and mobile research

camps). In what CYC’s co-founder Mike Winer began

to call ‘the war room’, they unfurled a strategy for

an exciting new business model for conservation.