Rangelands NRM Blog, News & Resources

Biosecurity outcomes for pastoral and desert partners

A focus on a regional solution to large feral herbivore management across the desert-pastoral interface of WA is resulting in key biosecurity outcomes that benefit both pastoral and desert land managers alike.

The Wiluna Martu rangers of the Little Sandy Desert are forging new working relationships with their neighbours in the Pastoral/Desert Interface.

This includes the Wiluna Martu Traditional Owners’ culturally-important Katjarra priority management zone (which includes the Carnarvon Ranges) of the Birriliburu Indigenous Protected Area (IPA), a category of nationally and internationally-recognised conservation estate.

This important zone of the Birriliburu IPA also borders with several pastoral stations all with similar concerns around the Large Feral Herbivores (camels and donkeys particularly) that affect their livelihoods.

Already over the last four years, the partnership between the Wiluna Shire and the Goldfields Nullarbor Regional Biosecurity Association (GNRBA) has culled around 8000 camels and donkeys from pastoral lands, all carried out under the proviso of strict humane destruction against national codes of practice.

Extending the impacts of this culling program for greater benefits to all land managers was at the heart of this new collaboration.

With support from Rangelands NRM, the Birriliburu team bought a day’s shooting time from the Wiluna partnership of the GNRBA and Wiluna Shire.

As a gesture of goodwill, the GNRBA and the Wiluna Shire contributed an additional day’s worth of aerial shooting time.

Tom Griffiths, Birrilburu IPA Ranger Coordinator with Desert Support Services, said it was a highly successful shoot operation and the collaboration has fostered greater communication between pastoralists and Aboriginal rangers.

The GNRBA and the Wiluna Shire had already set aside funding to run the now annual culling program targeting Large Feral Herbivores (in this case donkeys and camels), and invited the Birriliburu IPA rangers to take part.

The shooter and helicopter worked in December 2017 to control large feral herbivores.

These are causing damage to the environment, reducing productive potentials of grazing lands, destroying important water sources and cultural sites (many of which are one and the same as the water sources) and threatening the habitat of a number of endangered species.

The target area is one that both pastoralists and the Wiluna Martu rangers agreed was an area of mutually-beneficial return on investment.

Rangelands NRM Program Manager (Eastern Rangelands) Chris Curnow said the rangers received far more than a day’s shooting in return.

“This is a first for land managers both side of the pastoral/desert interface, and the partnership is building across these different land tenures,” Chris said.

“The Birriliburu IPA rangers supported the shooter and helicopter team through the taking care of the all-important ground-based field support logistics.”

“The operation involved both parties meeting on Country to undertake co-patrols—pastoralists and rangers worked together assessing which remote localities would be the target of this joint shoot,” Chris said.

Vocational Education Training (VET) students from Wiluna TAFE led by TAFE trainer Mac Jensen also attended the entire operation to witness and experience a large regional scale solution to the large feral herbivore issue that spans the pastoral/desert interface.

“By working with GNRBA (a recognised pastoral industry partner), the Birriliburu IPA rangers see the potential in working closer with industry,” Chris said.

“While this operation concerned just Large Feral Herbivores, the conversation has moved beyond these highly mobile threats and Birriliburu IPA rangers are now talking about future collaborations with their pastoral neighbours: joint fire management issues, joint erosion control measures and other joint biosecurity responses.”

Tom Griffiths said the activity has brought the rangers and pastoralists closer together.

“Engaging with our neighboring pastoralists as joint partners and focusing on regional landscape land management issues and solutions of mutual concern helps both parties manage the land for more lasting results,” Tom said.

Images: (Mac Jensen, Wiluna TAFE, December 2017)
Top: Birriliburu Elder and Wiluna TAFE students assist Birriliburu IPA rangers in the on-ground logistics delivering aviation fuel to remote locations, during the inaugural joint Large Feral Herbivore culling program with Wiluna Martu traditional owners, the GNRBA and Wiluna Shire
Left: Camels are causing damage to the environment
Right: Wiluna TAFE students with Chopper pilot

Biosecurity outcomes for pastoral and desert partners

A focus on a regional solution to large feral herbivore management across the desert-pastoral interface of WA is resulting in key biosecurity outcomes that benefit both pastoral and desert land managers alike.

The Wiluna Martu rangers of the Little Sandy Desert are forging new working relationships with their neighbours in the Pastoral/Desert Interface.

This includes the Wiluna Martu Traditional Owners’ culturally-important Katjarra priority management zone (which includes the Carnarvon Ranges) of the Birriliburu Indigenous Protected Area (IPA), a category of nationally and internationally-recognised conservation estate.

This important zone of the Birriliburu IPA also borders with several pastoral stations all with similar concerns around the Large Feral Herbivores (camels and donkeys particularly) that affect their livelihoods.

Already over the last four years, the partnership between the Wiluna Shire and the Goldfields Nullarbor Regional Biosecurity Association (GNRBA) has culled around 8000 camels and donkeys from pastoral lands, all carried out under the proviso of strict humane destruction against national codes of practice.

Extending the impacts of this culling program for greater benefits to all land managers was at the heart of this new collaboration.

With support from Rangelands NRM, the Birriliburu team bought a day’s shooting time from the Wiluna partnership of the GNRBA and Wiluna Shire.

As a gesture of goodwill, the GNRBA and the Wiluna Shire contributed an additional day’s worth of aerial shooting time.

Tom Griffiths, Birrilburu IPA Ranger Coordinator with Desert Support Services, said it was a highly successful shoot operation and the collaboration has fostered greater communication between pastoralists and Aboriginal rangers.

The GNRBA and the Wiluna Shire had already set aside funding to run the now annual culling program targeting Large Feral Herbivores (in this case donkeys and camels), and invited the Birriliburu IPA rangers to take part.

The shooter and helicopter worked in December 2017 to control large feral herbivores.

These are causing damage to the environment, reducing productive potentials of grazing lands, destroying important water sources and cultural sites (many of which are one and the same as the water sources) and threatening the habitat of a number of endangered species.

The target area is one that both pastoralists and the Wiluna Martu rangers agreed was an area of mutually-beneficial return on investment.

Rangelands NRM Program Manager (Eastern Rangelands) Chris Curnow said the rangers received far more than a day’s shooting in return.

“This is a first for land managers both side of the pastoral/desert interface, and the partnership is building across these different land tenures,” Chris said.

“The Birriliburu IPA rangers supported the shooter and helicopter team through the taking care of the all-important ground-based field support logistics.”

“The operation involved both parties meeting on Country to undertake co-patrols—pastoralists and rangers worked together assessing which remote localities would be the target of this joint shoot,” Chris said.

Vocational Education Training (VET) students from Wiluna TAFE led by TAFE trainer Mac Jensen also attended the entire operation to witness and experience a large regional scale solution to the large feral herbivore issue that spans the pastoral/desert interface.

“By working with GNRBA (a recognised pastoral industry partner), the Birriliburu IPA rangers see the potential in working closer with industry,” Chris said.

“While this operation concerned just Large Feral Herbivores, the conversation has moved beyond these highly mobile threats and Birriliburu IPA rangers are now talking about future collaborations with their pastoral neighbours: joint fire management issues, joint erosion control measures and other joint biosecurity responses.”

Tom Griffiths said the activity has brought the rangers and pastoralists closer together.

“Engaging with our neighboring pastoralists as joint partners and focusing on regional landscape land management issues and solutions of mutual concern helps both parties manage the land for more lasting results,” Tom said.

Images: (Mac Jensen, Wiluna TAFE, December 2017)
Top: Birriliburu Elder and Wiluna TAFE students assist Birriliburu IPA rangers in the on-ground logistics delivering aviation fuel to remote locations, during the inaugural joint Large Feral Herbivore culling program with Wiluna Martu traditional owners, the GNRBA and Wiluna Shire
Left: Camels are causing damage to the environment
Right: Wiluna TAFE students with Chopper pilot