31 July 2020
IN PHOTOS: ON COUNTRY WITH THE NYIKINA MANGALA RANGERS
WWF-Australia has been working with Nyikina Mangala Rangers since 2012 in the Grant, Edgar and Erskine ranges. Nyikina Mangala Rangers conduct surveys on Country which provides vital information on the three distinct populations of wiliji - a sub-species of the black-footed rock-wallaby - in the area.
The Erskine Range is about a two-hour drive from Broome, Western Australia. Its sweeping hills are neatly lined with boab trees and punctuated with rocky outcrops. Not far away, a bumpy dirt road takes you to Jarlmadangah where the Nyikina Mangala ranger base is located.
The wiliji is secretive and usually only emerges from the safety of its rocky refuge at night to dine on nearby vegetation. Their population, once thought to be 2,500 strong, has plummeted to an estimated 200-300. That's why the Nyikina Mangala Rangers are working to give the wiliji every chance of survival in the Grant, Edgar and Erskine ranges.
As part of surveying activities, sensor cameras have been installed in the rocky outcrops the wiliji calls home. Through this, Nyikina Mangala Rangers have been able to capture images of this often hard to spot animal. Monitoring activity also includes surveying predators and wiliji scat analysis to understand what they are eating. This helps the rangers be more targeted in recovery efforts.
Rangers also conduct cultural fire management around the ranges. Indigenous cultural fire management is a holistic approach to caring for Country that draws on thousands of years of tradition and science. “Cool” (low-intensity) fire is used to remove excessive shrubs and grasses, reducing fuel loads for destructive wildfires while maintaining and protecting habitat for animals and birds. By combining Indigenous science and expertise with modern technology, we hope to protect the wiliji for generations to come.
Shaquille Minindee is a Nyikina Mangala Ranger. He finds great solace from being in nature and working on Country to protect rock-wallabies. “I love being in the bush,” says Shaquille. “When you go out on Country you get that natural healing and all those negative feelings or thoughts will be gone...You get that feeling for our old people who were here long ago.” Watch the video below to hear more of Shaquille's story.
This work is funded by Lotterywest and the Western Australia Government’s State Natural Resource Management Program and delivered alongside our key partner Walalakoo Aboriginal Corporation and the Nyikina Mangala Rangers.