Nifty Mine environmental manager Michael Robinson underscored the vital role indigenous rangers play in the conservation of WA’s bush during a Stories of our Outback presentation at Melville Recreation Centre last Thursday.
Mr Robinson, who has been stationed at the East Pilbara operation for seven years, said before consulting the region’s traditional landowners he was at a loss to explain the absence of native bilby and mulgara in the area.
“The results of our surveys showed an awful lot more feral cats and foxes within a 45km radius of the mine but no bilby or mulgara, which is a bad sign for the health of the bush,” he said.
“And it wasn’t just around the mine – we looked at the broader region and there was the same increase in cats and foxes and decrease in other native wildlife so we knew it wasn’t the mine’s presence causing the issue.”
Meanwhile, two hours to the north east of Nifty Mine an indigenous township named Punmu was teeming with both bilby and mulgara.
“I started consulting with a couple of local indigenous ranger teams and quickly realised that the biggest issue was a change in fire regime,” Mr Robinson said.
“For years the traditional landowners hunted by setting fires to force animals out of the bush.
“When traditional Indigenous fire management is no longer in place, relatively frequent but small 40-50ha fires are replaced by less common but far larger 40,000-50,000ha bushfires that are much harder for native fauna to recover from.”
The Stories of our Outback presentation was hosted by Partnership for the Outback, an alliance of conservation organisations that is advocating for a State Government commitment to fund more jobs for indigenous rangers in WA’s national parks.
The group’s Create Ranger Parks proposal seeks to employ more than 200 indigenous rangers in remote communities and stimulate WA’s regional economy through the creation of a major new parks network.
The plan proposes converting five million hectares of former pastoral lease properties into national parks to be managed by indigenous ranger teams.
By Josh Zimmerman, Melville Times, 26 January 2017. View original story here.