Indigenous wildlife enterprise: Mustering swamp buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) in Northern Australia

Beau Austin, Stephen Garnett

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    19 Citations (Scopus)


    Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to analyse the Gulin Gulin Buffalo Company (GGBC), an Indigenous wildlife enterprise, within a sustainable livelihoods framework and to understand the factors that have contributed to its success.

    Design/methodology/approach: A combination of participatory observation, semi‐structured interviews and a focus‐group discussion were undertaken to understand the implications of the enterprise with regards to each of the five capitals of the sustainable livelihoods framework.

    Findings: The GGBC has successfully mustered feral buffalo from Northern Australia for 20 years. A livelihoods assessment of the industry shows that the natural capital (the buffalo) are harvested below replacement levels, financial returns are significant, the business possesses adequate physical infrastructure, human capital is increased through on‐the‐job training, and there is community support. Seven factors underpin this enterprise's success: the productive capacity of the buffalo and the resources it consumes; the minimal amount of anti‐use sentiment harboured by the Australian public towards the commercial use of buffalo; the size of the market and its indifference to wild harvested stock; consistent culturally aware management; strong historical roots in the pastoral industry; considerable alignment of the company's activities to the local culture; and strong relationships with the associated community.

    Originality/value: This paper provides insight into the nature of a successful Indigenous wildlife enterprise in remote and regional Australia that sheds light on Indigenous enterprise success more generally. As such, this paper will be valuable for Indigenous entrepreneurs and Indigenous economic development professionals, policy makers and researchers.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)309-323
    Number of pages15
    JournalJournal of Enterprising Communities
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2011


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