Karajarri Head Ranger, Karajarri Indigenous Protected Area and Karajarri Rangers
Tell us about your organisation
I work for the Karajarri Rangers, who are directed by the Karajarri Traditional Lands Association. The Karajarri Indigenous Protected Area covers more than 32,000 square kilometres of jurarr (coastal areas) and pirra (inland areas). Our work is directed by our cultural leaders and Traditional Owners.
Karajarri Head Woman Ranger Jackie Shoveller shared cultural knowledge about important plants such as nyaminyari (billygoat plum). Image: Karajarri IPA
What Threatened Species Recovery Hub research have you been involved in?
Our Indigenous Protected Area is huge and access from the ground is hard, so we have been using aerial burning to manage fire over large areas. We want to see if this is helping wildlife, if the country is in good shape and if the fire management is working.
This hub project helped us to work with partners to set up a monitoring program for pirra (desert shrublands) and marangurru (spinifex country). We have had two monitoring trips in 2019 so far. Unfortunately, we had to put our April trip on hold this year due to the coronavirus, but we are hoping to complete both monitoring trips later in the year.
The monitoring is showing Karajarri Rangers that as they get fire under control, and stop the big desert wildfires, there will be more grass cover and leaf litter on the ground, and also more small mammals and reptiles. Image: Sarah legge and Karajarri
How is this useful to Karajarri?
The monitoring work is showing us that as we get fire under control, and stop the big desert wildfires, there will be more grass cover and leaf litter on the ground, and also more small mammals and reptiles. We plan to do this monitoring work twice a year, at Edgars and Kulgara, for a few years, to really understand what fire does to the wildlife and to help us manage fire to keep country healthy.
What has been good about the collaboration?
For me it has been good to learn more about the bush tucker plants and to hear stories from Jacko, Karajarri’s Head Woman Ranger. Also learning about reptiles and mammals from the scientists and ecologists working with us in the field. It’s helping me to better understand the reasons in white fella way for us to do that burning we do. We also have reasons for burning culturally and that’s why we as rangers are working with our old people and through that working with our partners to help us get out to remote pirra country for fire burning.
Top image: Braedan Taylor. Image: Nicolas Rakotopare
Professor John Woinarski of Charles Darwin University discusses the importance of averting extinctions of less charismatic animals.
The 2019–20 wildfires have severely impacted animals of all major species groups. Here, national experts on mammals, birds, reptiles, frogs and freshwater fish and crayfish present some of the key challenges for each group and how these will influence management and research priorities in the aftermath of the fires.
Cultural fire management is the way that Indigenous people have used fire to care for Country for thousands of years, and it continues today. The devastation wreaked by the 2019–20 bushfires across millions of hectares was a wake-up call for Australia and the world. Oliver Costello from the Firesticks Alliance explains how the fires demonstrated the need to listen to and care for Country.
Australia has one of the highest rates of plant endemism of any country globally. After the catastrophic fire season of 2019–20, Dr Rachael Gallagher and Professor David Keith are leading two teams to find out which species and ecological communities are most in need of immediate recovery.
The 2019–20 bushfires burnt over 12 million hectares of south-eastern and south-western Australia, causing abrupt losses of biodiversity at a scale never seen before. Over a billion animals were estimated to have died, but the figure is likely much higher. The Australian Government’s Wildlife and Threatened Species Bushfire Recovery Expert Panel is guiding the work of prioritising species and ecological communities for emergency interventions and determining what those actions should be. Hub Deputy Director and Expert Panel member Professor Sarah Legge takes us though the hows and whys of this prioritisation, and some of its challenges.