On International Day for Biological Diversity we acknowledge the links between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages and Australia’s iconic plants and animals.

22 May 2019

More than 70% of our plants and animals are native to Australia and cannot be found in the wild anywhere else in the world. This includes 93% of our reptiles, 69% of our mammals and 46% of our birds.

The names of many of our iconic plants and animals come from Aboriginal words, including:

  • kookaburra – from the Wiradjuri word gugubarra
  • kangaroo – from the Guugu Yimithirr word gangurru
  • bilby – from the Ullaroi word bilba.

Other names originating from the Dharug language, spoken around the Botany Bay area where many unique plants and animals were first seen by European naturalists, include:

  • din-gu (dingo)
  • bug bug (boobook owl)
  • warata (waratah).

Learn more about the importance of acknowledging and reviving Indigenous languages on our website arts.gov.au/IY2019.

Waratah photo courtesy of the Department of the Environment and Energy.

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