Environmental historian Pete Minard explores the vexed history of species acclimatisation in today’s Sunday Age piece, and in particular the role of the Acclimatisation Society of Victoria, which as Pete explains was directly responsible for at least eight of our pest species: English sparrows, blackbirds, Indian mynas, hares, hog deer, sambah deer, rusa deer and axis deer. This is all as a taster of Pete’s forthcoming book All things useful, harmless and ornamental: a history of species acclimatisation, based on his 2015 PhD thesis in SHAPS at the University of Melbourne under Professor May’s supervision (‘A history of zoological acclimatisation in Victoria, 1858-1900’). The book is to be published in the Flows, Migrations and Exchanges series from the University of North Carolina Press.
Acclimatise! acclimatise!Cock-sparrows, thrushes, frogs,Alpacas, camels, ostriches,Race-horses, convicts, hogs—The last are dirty animals,Accustomed, too, to gore,And still I think the last but oneWould prove the greater bore.Acclimatise! Acclimatise!