Indigenous rangers, community and scientists gathered in the desert in June to share information and talk about healthy country and people.
The 2019 Species of the Desert Forum (SODF) was held 18-20 June at Paruku, south of Mulan at the edge of the Great Sandy and Tanami deserts.
The festival was coordinated by the Paruku Rangers, Kumirrki Rangers, Tjurabalan Members & PBC, Mulan Community, the Indigenous Desert Alliance and Kimberley Land Council, and funded by Rangelands NRM (through the National Landcare Program), the 10 Deserts Project, World Wildlife Fund, Bush Heritage, Northern Star Resources, Threatened Species Recovery Hub and Country Needs People.
Samantha (Sam) Doudle from the Indigenous Land Alliance (IDA) said 260 rangers, scientists, conservationists, Traditional Owners and local community members from Mulan and Balgo joined for the three-day event of talks, workshops and training.
“The workshops included Rangers sharing experiences and knowledge with each other on topics ranging from threatened species management to managing feral animals,” Sam said.
Ranger groups also worked together on large format maps (on hardy canvas material) covering the country managed by each desert group.
The Night Parrot was one of the endangered species focused on at the Festival.
The Kimberley’s Paruku Rangers discovered this cryptic bird in the region in 2017 and have been doing a lot of work to find out more about it and where it lives so it can be protected.
“During the events, attendees looked at examples of the type of habitat where Night Parrots might like to live,” Sam said.
“This will help other Indigenous ranger groups to know what to look for when they head back home to their desert country.”
Previous work has found it more effective to locate Night Parrots using song meters rather than camera traps.
The information and collaboration that groups have experienced at this Festival is helping them to make plans for where and how they might want to search for Night Parrots on their country.
“There is a general realisation that good land management for landscapes, culture, tucker and medicine is often also good land management for threatened species – everything wins, regardless of why good land management occurs,” Sam said.