What we’re doing
Pilungah has buildings, bores and hundreds of kilometres of fences and tracks to maintain. Surrounded by farmland, its boundaries have to be maintained and stock incursions responsibly managed.
We’re also working with The University of Sydney’s Desert Ecology Research Group who are researching control techniques for feral predators such as cats and foxes. Feral camels from the desert to the south must also be controlled.
While the weed list is small, there’s some weed control work and we’re vigilant on new intruders.
Large-scale and intense wildfires have become an unfortunate characteristic of Australia’s arid zones since the removal of traditional Aboriginal fire-stick farming.
They’re particularly problematic after big wet seasons, which massively increase plant growth – especially highly flammable grasses such as Spinifex.
In the past such growth was kept under control by the Wangkamadla people, who regularly burnt the area as part of their land management.
Our staff use similar patterns of ‘fire-stick’ farming in specific areas to create a ‘mosaic of burns’ designed to encourage new growth and act as fire breaks. Wildfires can seriously affect populations of small native mammals, so fire management is critical.
With cattle removed and damage from feral camels and horses reduced, we’re seeing rapid improvement in the Mitchell grass plains and wetland areas.
We’re also seeing regeneration of the Gidgee and Mulga woodland vegetation between the dunes. This has led to increases in the numbers of small mammals.
Satellite images have shown plant cover and productivity in the swales between dunes and on the slopes of the ranges is higher than surrounding properties and measurably improved.
History and cultural values
The Wangkamadla people have a long-standing connection to this land, with rock paintings and significant sites scattered across the reserve. It once lay on a trade route stretching from Queensland's Gulf of Carpentaria all the way to South Australia. The local narcotic plant Pituri was traded for stone knives, seashells and even dugong-tusk daggers.
We're working closely with the Wangkamadla people to identify and learn about important cultural values.
The purchase of Pilungah Reserve was made possible with funds from the Commonwealth’s National Reserve System Program, as well as our generous supporters.