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Tiwi Food: Animals

This table provides information about animals Tiwi people use for food. For a more comprehensive list please refer to Tiwi plants and animals: Aboriginal flora and fauna knowledge from Bathurst and Melville Islands, northern Australia (2001) Puruntatameri, J., et al. Non-Tiwi are banned from hunting or fishing on the Tiwi Islands without a permit.

Tiwi Name 

 

Common Name

 

Scientific Name 

 

Tiwi Season

 

Use 

Arlaminga

 

Barramundi

 

Lates calcarifer

 

All seasons

 

Arlaminga flesh is eaten after cooking. It is very tasty and highly sought after. 

Dalyngini

 

Sugarbag Bee

 

Trigona spp.

 

Kumunupunari

 

Yingwati, sugar bag, is collected in the dry season. Dalyngini (bees) are followed through the bush and the tree containing sugar bag is chopped down.

Jipwajirringa

 

Agile Wallaby

 

Macropus agilis

 

All seasons

 

Jipwajirringa are a much sought-after source of meat. In the past, they were hunted by men with spears and throwing sticks but are now hunted with guns. 

Jukwarringa

 

Mud Mussel

 

Polymesoda erosa

 

All seasons

 

Jukwarringa are an excellent food resource. 

Jurriyl

 

Whistling Duck

 

Dendrocygna spp. 

 

Kumunupunari, Tyiari

 

When the water holes dry up it is easier to hunt Jurriyl. The flesh is eaten after roasting on hot coals.

Kawarri or Muwani

 

Sand Goanna

 

Varanus panoptes

 

All seasons

 

The flesh is eaten after a light roasting on hot coals. 

Kawukawuni

 

Bustard

 

Ardeotis australis

 

Kumunupunari

 

The flesh, which is cooked on coals and eaten, is considered excellent food. Kawukawuni are easier to hunt in Kumunupunari.

Kipopi

 

Northern Brown Bandicoot

 

Isoodon macrourus

 

All seasons

 

Kipopi is considered excellent meat. They are roasted on hot coals. 

Kirilima

 

Orange-footed Scrub-fowl

 

Megapodius reinwardt

 

All seasons

 

Kirilima are roasted on hot coals and eaten all year round. 

Kitirika

 

Green Turtle

 

Chelonia mydas

 

All seasons

 

Turtles are collected whenever possible, although Jamutakari seems to be the most fruitful time. The flesh is eaten after the whole animal has been roasted in a fire. Karaka (turtle eggs) are a very popular food source and are eaten raw or boiled in water for 5 to 10 minutes

Kurumpuka

 

Mud Crab

 

Scylla serrata

 

All seasons

 

The flesh of the claws, body and legs of Kurumpuka is eaten after a quick roasting on hot coals. It is considered a delicacy and is much sought after. 

Mantuwunjini

 

Dugong

 

Dugong dugon

 

Tyiari

 

Mantuwunjini are hunted when they come in close to the coast to feed and breed. The flesh is eaten and is considered an excellent food. 

Marripukarli

 

Mangrove Jack

 

Lutjanus argentimaculatus

 

All seasons

 

Marripukarli are often found in near mangroves, and are known for their dangerous bite. The flesh is eaten after cooking and is very tasty. 

Martapaka

 

Crested Tern

 

Sterna bergii

 

Jamutakari

 

Martapaka lays eggs at the end of Jamutakari, the wet season. The eggs are collected, cooked and eaten. They are considered an excellent food.

Mapulinka

 

Partridge Pigeon

 

Geophaps smithii

 

Kumunupunari

 

Mapulinka are found on the roadside when grasses are seeding. The flesh is eaten after roasting. 

Mayimampi

 

Magpie Goose

 

Anseranas semipalmata

 

Kumunupunari, Tiyari

 

When the water holes dry up it’s easier to hunt Mayimampi. The flesh is eaten after cooking and is considered excellent food. It can be dangerous collecting Mayimampi eggs as Yirrikipayi (Saltwater Crocodiles) are in the same habitat. 

Mirnangini

 

Cockle (ridge shell)

 

Anadara granosa

 

All seasons

 

Mirangini are lightly roasted in hot coals, allowed to cool then eaten. 

Mirninguwuni, Piliwuni or Piliwunga

 

Oysters

 

Saccostrea spp. 

 

All seasons

 

Oysters are eaten raw, roasted briefly on coals or boiled for a short period. They are considered an excellent food resource that promotes good health. 

Piranga

 

Long Bum

 

Telescopium telescopium

 

All seasons

 

Piranga are lightly roasted on hot coals. They may also be eaten uncooked and are an effective hangover treatment.

Pwampungini

 

Black-footed Tree-rat

 

Mesembriomys gouldii

 

Kumunupunari

 

Pwampungini flesh tastes good in Kumunupunari, the dry season, because they have been eating flowers and nectar.

Tarnikini

 

Black Flying-fox

 

Pteropus alecto

 

Kumunupunari

 

Tarnikini flesh is eaten after roasting on coals. Tarnikini taste better in Kumunupunari, the dry season, because they have been eating flowers and nectar.

Tirrintirra

 

Burdekin Duck

 

Tadorna radjah

 

Kumunupunari, Tyiari

 

Tirrintirra flesh is eaten after roasting on coals. 

Wakatapa

 

Cheeky Mangrove Worm

 

Bankia australis

 

Tyiari

 

Wakatapa is a small ‘cheeky’ mangrove worm that cannot be eaten at most times of the year. However, after it has been boiled it makes a soup that is good medicine for coughs and colds, and is used by nursing mothers to increase milk production. If Wakatapa is accidentally only be eaten raw it causes throat irritation and coughing. It can only be eaten without cooking if collected from freshwater areas of mangroves and during Tiyari.

Wuninga 

 

Northern Brushtail Possum

 

Trichosurus vulpecula

 

All seasons

 

Wuninga are an important and highly regarded food source. They are roasted on hot coals. 

Wurripiti

 

Cockle

 

Tapes spp. 

 

All seasons

 

Wurripiti are lightly roasted in hot coals, allowed to cool then eaten.

Wujirrima

 

Periwinkle

 

Nerita balteata

 

All seasons

 

Wujirrima are lightly roasted on hot coals and the flesh picked out with a stick and eaten.

Yilinga

 

Carpet Python

 

Morelia spilota

 

All seasons

 

Yilinga are boiled for several hours or placed on hot coals. The cooked flesh is a popular food. 

Yirrikipayi

 

Saltwater Crocodile

 

Crocodylus porosus

 

All seasons

 

Yirrikipayi is only eaten by old people. The tail is the tastiest part. The eggs are hard to harvest because they are closely guarded by adult crocodiles.

Yuwurli

 

Mangrove Worm

 

Bactronophorous

 

Jamutakari

 

Yuwurli is a large sweet-tasting worm eaten raw after chopping them from the branches, stems and roots of dead mangrove wood. Yuwurli taste similar to oysters, and are given to people who are sick or unhealthy. They are especially good for pregnant women and nursing mothers and as a hangover cure.  Yuwuli cannot be eaten in Tiyari.