The Ravens Tell You Where the Dead Are is a series about rural Australia in the age of extinction and climate change. From 2019 until 2021, I travelled around the country with a fencing team and gained access to the rarely visited corners of Australia. Throughout my travels I witnessed the effects that intensive European style farming, especially animal farming, as well as climate change have on the environment and wildlife. The rapidly changing environmental conditions are also affecting the industry itself–loss of production, people forced out of work and increased suffering of farm animals. The Ravens Tell You Where the Dead Are is a story about loss of life and livelihoods amidst humanity’s continuing destructive consumption.

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Beef cattle feedlot

This feedlot accommodates 12,000 animals. 43% of landmass in Australia is used to produce beef. Australia is one of the world’s largest beef producing countries and the second largest beef exporter. This comes at a high cost to the environment, as half of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions are caused by the livestock industry, when taking into account short lived gases over a 20 year period. However, the environmental impact of animal agriculture is far-reaching, especially in a country like Australia, where European style farming is not compatible with local ecosystems. Beef production in Australia has led to significant land clearing, water shortages and pollution, as well as biodiversity loss.



Cameron started working for the fencing team at the age of 16, as difficult family situation led him to seek independence. The family owned business welcomed the teenager to their team as they taught Cameron valuable skills and kept him out of trouble. After 2 years on the fencing team, the young man has an impeccable work ethic and proficiency with machinery, making him highly employable. He moved on to working in the wood industry and was hoping to buy his own house in the near future.

The overall trend for youth in the country is to move into cities, while the agricultural workforce continues to age. Throughout the 20th century, rural population of Australia halved.


Old TV on a station dump

Rubbish on remote farms and stations does not make it into the country’s waste management system. Instead, it gets burnt, buried, or is left lying around. The ever rising cost of waste management does not justify itself to farmers, who have plenty of land for their own illegal dumps.


Satellite photo of Koonamore Vegetation Reserve

The Koonamore Reserve was established on Koonamore Station in 1926 and is one of the longest running vegetation monitoring sites in the world. 400 ha of badly overgrazed land was fenced off to exclude sheep, goats, and eventually rabbits from the area. Researchers, students, and volunteers gather at least yearly on the reserve to monitor and record changes in vegetation. The aims of the project are to study the regeneration of natural vegetation, the ecology of the area, and the effect of grazing of known intensity on the process of regeneration.

The satellite image demonstrates a significant difference in vegetation between pastoral country and the exclusion zone. Ecologist Dr Jose Facelli commenting to ABC News: “Here you have a stable substrate where plants can establish, on the other (outside the fence) you have a situation where water is going to run off, wind is going to remove fertile soil and the system is not going to be able to recover, even if there is a release from grazing or substantial rainfall."

While recovery from overgrazing is possible, there is also a point of no return. And South Australia’s government has drafted a new Pastoral Lands Bill, which would double the length of pastoral leases, remove stocking limits, in person inspections and thwart conservation efforts.



Louie joined the fencing team at the height of the drought. Before that, he was working as a farm hand on a sheep station, but sheep numbers were halved due to severe drought. Hence, there was not enough work on the property.

In 2020, Louie and his partner were supposed to travel through Europe for a couple of months, but they ended up returning home a week after arriving, due to the pandemic. Lucky for him, the drought ended in 2020 and Louie was able to return to the sheep station.

Louie’s dream is to own and run his own station one day.


Destroyed land

Much of Australia was first deforested, then used for grazing sheep and cattle. This image depicts an overgrazed paddock on a sheep station–too many animals were put into this paddock, the animals were left there for too long, or both. Heavy, hoofed animals are ill-suited for the delicate vegetation in Australia.

A sight like this can be prevented, but like any other industry–money rules decision making. Profit over longevity means that this soil will need hundreds, if not thousands of years to restore. Unfortunately, the sight of overgrazed paddocks is far too common in Australia, since half the country is used for rearing animals.


Dead joey

I found this joey on a dirt track on an outback cattle station. According to an indigenous wildlife protector, this joey was bashed to death by a kangaroo shooter. The government's quota for the commercial slaughter industry is about 1.6 million adult animals per year. Joeys, who are killed by blunt force, decapitated, or left to die alone, are not included in that number, but it's estimated that 500,000-800,000 are killed within the industry only. The "private" shootings equal or are even greater than the industry's quotas. Currently, the killing rates put kangaroos on a path to extinction.


Tony and Sarah

Tony and Sarah had been shooting kangaroos until the peak of the drought in 2019, when the population plummeted and the remaining animals were emaciated. A new source of income had to be found, so they joined the fencing crew for a project on a sheep station in Western Australia, where I took this image. After working on the station, the couple returned to South Australia, where Tony did some earthmoving on another sheep property. They also started to shoot kangaroos again, since Tony had leftover “harvesting” tags. Tony said that the kangaroos were so starved that one could walk up to the animal, flick them, and they’d fall on the ground.


Silos amidst a dust storm

Dust storms are a common phenomenon in Australia, especially during times of drought. It is estimated that the country has lost 2 to 3 feet of topsoil since the arrival of Europeans. A quote from an interview with Dr. Christine Jones for Acres USA: “The original soil was so well aggregated that aboriginal people could dig in it with their bare hands. The first Europeans to arrive in Australia talked about two feet of black “vegetable mold” that covered the soil surface. Today our soils are mostly light-colored. The use of color to describe soils only came into being after the carbon-rich topsoil had blown or washed away.” Currently, Australia’s soil is considered to be among the world’s least productive and nutrient poor.

Soil is considered to be a non renewable resource and the annual economic cost of dust storms in Australia is in the millions. One of the biggest storms in 2009, the Red Dawn, caused 299 million dollars worth of damages.

Dry conditions, loss of vegetation, and tillage leave the soil vulnerable. The finer soil particles, which are also the richest in nutrient levels and moisture retainment, are blown away first during dust storms.


Rescued wedge-tailed eagle

Just like some other native species, the wedge-tailed eagle has been treated like a pest by European Australians. Hundreds of thousands of eagles were killed in the last century, as the birds were perceived to be a threat to farm animals. Nowadays, the systemic culling of the protected species is rare. While the wedge-tailed eagle population reportedly declined 27.7% from 1980s to 2000s, the species is now considered to be stable. Overall, raptor species numbers are declining all over the country. According to Threatened Species Index for Australian Birds 2018, threatened Australian bird populations decreased an average of 52 percent from 1985 to 2015. The biggest threats to native birds continue to be loss of habitat, land mismanagement, and introduced predators.
The eagle on the image was rescued from people who attempted to keep the bird as a pet.


Sheep in the midst of heavy winds

European farming techniques continue to significantly damage native ecosystems. Livestock grazing takes up 54% of Australian land. Compared to native animals, introduced farm animals overgraze and damage native vegetation with their heavier bodies and big hoofs. Sheep consume ten times more water and produce significantly more methane compared to kangaroos, for example. Furthermore, many farmers overstock their land, leading to long term or even irreversible loss of vegetation. Intensive pastoral farming has led to loss and pollution of natural water sources, erosion, species extinction, and desertification.

The sheep in the image were kept in a paddock where all vegetation had been lost. The image was taken on a day when temperatures soared past 40 degrees Celsius and heavy, hot winds were blowing. Like most sheep in Australia, these animals had no shade in their paddock.


Worker sleeping in a caravan during daytime

With temperatures reaching almost 45° Celsius and the UV index going beyond 11, the fencing team worked during night time instead. Even though summers have always been hot in the arid areas of Australia, the temperature records indicate a warming trend. Within the last 50 years, the mean annual temperatures have increased by 1.5° C in the arid lands of South Australia.

The warming hasn’t gone unnoticed by the older generation–throughout 2019 the owner of the fencing business said he had never experienced such extreme heat in his 40 years of working in the bush. Throughout the same year, lunch breaks and dinnertime were often interrupted by extreme weather warnings and news of bushfires spreading. The old man made occasional jokes about the “greenies”, but in that year he was visibly disturbed and worried about the future of his children.


Slaughtered pack of dingoes on a fence

Hanging up the predators for display is to signal that there’s a “war” going on between man and dingo. Even though dingoes have existed in Australia for thousands of years, they are seen as a pest by sheep farmers and on the south side of Australia’s dingo fence, all captured animals are killed.

Unfortunately, there is not much information available on the impact dingoes have on sheep farming. According to farmers, the damage caused by the predator is in millions of dollars, but various reports and studies suggest otherwise–a very small percentage of millions of sheep fall prey to the dingo. On the other hand, about 10 million lambs die before weaning in Australia, with 80% of deaths accounted to poor welfare practices.

It also appears that the attempt to eradicate the dingo has backfired–research suggests that poison baiting has caused the evolution of a larger predator. Killing pack members results in higher farm animal predation. The southern side of the dingo fence has less biodiversity as well as less native mammals.

But the dark underbelly of destroying the species is 1080 poisoning. Spread across Australia, it’s not only dingoes who consume the poison and perish. A study by Murdoch University revealed that in Western Australia less than 2% of 1080 baits were eaten by the dingo. Majority of the poison was instead consumed by quokkas, followed by other animals such as possums, bandicoots, echidnas, pigeons, parrots, emus and rabbits. Besides wild animals, thousands of domestic dogs die each year after accidentally eating the baits. 1080 poison interferes with the animal’s central nervous system and heart–dying animals cry, vomit, defecate and experience violent seizures.


Removing a dead emu from the fence line

European Australians have a complicated relationship with the country’s native species. On the one hand, animals such as kangaroos, emus, and wombats are celebrated as national treasures. On the other hand, they are often treated as problematic pests and culled in millions. The fight against the emu culminated in the Great Emu War in 1930s, when the military was assigned to kill 20,000 birds in Western Australia. Even though the current emu population is considered to be stable at around 600 to 700 thousand birds, some isolated populations are at a risk of extinction. Birds Australia concluded in the early 2000s that the emu population had been more than halved. Habitat loss, pollution, and intensive farming have a negative impact on the native species.



We met Tim while working on a cattle farm. His looks reflect his personality–charismatic, warm, but also goofy. After meeting Tim, I felt the impulse to photograph him. I was in luck, since he invited us over to his home bar, where I took this image.

Tim is an Englishman, who first came to Australia in the 60s. Coincidentally, decades ago he had worked on the same dairy farm, where we worked in 2019. Over the last 10 years he has been a gardener for the cattle farm owners. He said he didn’t really know what he’s doing, but he got the job because the owner was fascinated by the fact that Tim had some experience with lawns.


Wool press in a shearing shed

Even though Australia continues to be the leading wool producer in the world, producing 25 per cent of greasy wool in the world, the country no longer “rides on the sheep’s back”. Wool production has been in decline over recent decades and compared to 1980s, sheep numbers have been reduced from 180 million to 65 million in 2020. This has been caused by increase in competing materials, change in consumer preferences, and the inflexibility of the producers, according to professor Richard Waterhouse from the University of Sydney. The industry has always been highly susceptible to volatile prices, with the biggest disaster being the 1991 collapse of the wool reserve price scheme. These days, Australian wool industry depends on the whims of China–in 2019/2020 financial year, China bought 77 per cent of Australian wool on the market.


Station dog ripping apart dead goats in a dam

At the peak of Australia’s most recent drought, many dams around the country looked like this. Animals, who were used to regular water sources on farms and stations, perished. Goats would seek alleviation from the heat and sit in the muddy bottoms of the dams. Unfortunately, the animals would sometimes get stuck and die.

This image were taken in late 2019. There was daily talk about the drought stricken farmers on the radio, news of people stealing water from Murray Darling’s river system, and updates about increasing bushfires on the East coast. The very worst was still to come.


Rabbit skull

In 1859, a wealthy settler released 13 rabbits on his property. About 160 years later, almost all of the 200 million wild rabbits in Australia can be traced back to those 13 animals. Favourable conditions and a high reproductive rate has resulted in the fastest recorded spread of a mammal in the world. A pair of mating rabbits can create almost 200 new animals within 18 months. It’s estimated that the rabbits cause over 200 million dollars worth of losses to the agricultural industry. Furthermore, there are at least 304 threatened animal and plant species affected by rabbits and their activities. People have tried to control rabbit populations with fencing, poisons and viruses, but there hasn’t been much long term success.



David spent about 20 years working on sheep stations as a manager–considered to be one of the best in the area. However, economic circumstances in the industry led him to seek new opportunities and he established his own fencing business about 15 years ago. Up until 2019, David’s business was overwhelmed with work and there was always 6 months worth of projects lined up, but recent droughts led to significant destocking of sheep and growing insecurity about infrastructure investments.

Despite the recent setbacks, David continues to work hard and embody old-school integrity. His life spent in rural Australia is rich in experiences and he always has an interesting story to share. Throughout his time in the bush, David has witnessed significant degradation of vegetation and he acknowledges that there is poor handling of animals and land within the industry.


Tattawuppa Hill and a dry creek

While many creeks and lakes in the outback have always been seasonal, streamflow has decreased in southern Australia since 1975. Southern parts of the country have experienced downward trends in rainfall since the 1970s. Since 1910, Australia’s average temperature has increased by 1.44 degrees Celsius. 2019 was the country’s hottest and driest year on record and the nation-wide drought culminated in devastating bushfires. Even though much of Australia has received decent rainfall over the past years, many regions continue to suffer from drought. The loss of water sources and intolerable temperatures are increasingly affecting dwindling native species.

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