I have returned from my first trip to the Birriliburu Indigenous Protected Area (IPA), one of the traditional homes of the Martu people. The IPA is over 6.6 million hectares located 250 km north of Wiluna.
Bush Heritage has recently fostered a partnership with the Land and Community Team of the Central Desert Native Title Service (CDNTS) who have established an Indigenous ranger program employing locals from Wiluna and surrounding areas.
The rangers lead a number of land management activities in the Birriliburu IPA including reinstating traditional fire patterns, feral animal control and baseline fauna surveys.
My role will be to work with the rangers and CDNTS Team to establish a science and monitoring program with a focus on fire management, cats, threatened species and bush tucker.
This first trip was amazing. I picked up four ladies from Wiluna and drove in convoy out to the Carnarvon Ranges with two other male ranger teams.
We met Mark Cowan, Senior Research Scientist at the WA Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPaW), who has been undertaking a number of fauna surveys in the area.
Mark took the time to explain his survey methods with us and showed us some of the amazing critters he had collected from pitfall traps.
A number of other biological surveys have been undertaken in the past two years by DPaW scientists working with Traditional Owners to document the flora, fauna and insects in the Carnarvon Ranges.
Several new species have been described and multiple species’ range extensions identified as a result of their work.
Another highlight for me was learning the Martu names of bush tucker plant species.
The ladies had their ‘eyes peeled’ and pointed out important species to me as we travelled through sandplains, creek lines, rocky rises and recently burnt desert country.
I plan to work with the rangers to create a bush tucker herbarium that will include the Martu and scientific names of each species as well as plant specimens, photos and a description of their uses.