Rangelands NRM Blog, News & Resources

Rangers contribute to protecting bilbies and habitat

As bilbies (Mankarr) continue to decline across Australia, the Martu women rangers are working to protect populations that occur across their country.

Over the past year, the KJ Martu ranger teams (assisted by Kanyirninpa Jukurrpa (KJ) – Martu’s peak cultural and land management organisation) have all contributed to developing an updated survey methodology that aims to track trends in Mankarr populations on Martu country over time.

The work is supported by Rangelands NRM through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme.

Ranger teams from Jigalong, Parnngurr, Punmu and Kunawaritji helped to design a methodology for finding bilbies that is best suited to KJ rangers and create field resources that assist rangers when they are carrying out surveys.

This design processes has been assisted by Anja Skroblin from NESP Threatened Species Recovery Hub.

Ranger Program Manager Adam Pennington, from KJ said the Jigalong women’s ranger team trialled the survey technique over four days in September, with seventeen rangers participating.

‘The Jigalong team firstly revisited an area of mulga woodland where Mankarr have been in residence for more than a year,” he said.

“At that site, the more experienced rangers taught those who were still learning how to identify Mankarr burrows, diggings, tracks and scats, and how to identify some of the grasses and other foods that bilbies eat,” Mr Pennington said.

The team visited mulga, sand plain, and clay pan habitats near Jigalong where they practiced carrying out surveys and habitat assessments, and identified what management actions were needed at each site to keep country healthy for Mankarr and other wildlife.

“Jigalong and the other ranger teams will build on this training to monitor Mankarr populations and habitat suitability over the next years,” Mr Pennington said.

Image: The Jigalong team points to a freshly excavated Mankarr (bilby) burrow found during surveys. This area supports a permanent population of Mankarr. (©KJ)