Rangelands NRM Blog, News & Resources

Rangers undertake turtle monitoring in the Kimberley

[January 2015]

Nyangumarta Rangers in the Kimberley undertook turtle monitoring as part of their ranger training late last year.

From the 6-17 October, eight Nyangumarta Rangers from the coastal community of Bidyadanga participated in further training towards their Certificate II in Conservation and Land Management, which included travelling to Eighty Mile Beach to participate in the Department of Parks and Wildlife’s turtle program training.

The Ranger Training program is an ongoing initiative coordinated by Greening Australia through their Pilbara Conservation Program (a joint venture with BHP Billiton Iron Ore) and supported by Rangelands NRM.

During the 2014-15 Eighty Mile Beach Turtle Training Induction Program run by the Department of Parks and Wildlife, the rangers were taught track and species identification, how to determine nesting success, safety in the field, how to use GPS’s and Cybertrackers and other aspects of the turtle monitoring program.

Parks and Wildlife Eight Mile Beach ranger Erina Young said the training was a huge success, with 30 people in attendance including Parks and Wildlife staff, a Nyangumarta elder, Nyangumarta rangers, Karajarri Rangers, as well as Greening Australia and KLC staff.

“There has also been significant interest following the workshop, with funding for six traditional owners to assist with turtle monitoring each week (two on Nyangumarta Country and four on Shared Country), along with other activities such as predator surveillance and satellite tracking,” Ms Young said.

Eighty Mile Beach Marine Park is jointly managed with Traditional Owners so it is a real privilege working with them on their traditional lands and sea.

The Eighty Mile Beach Turtle Monitoring Program is a collaboration between Parks and Wildlife and the Traditional Owners of Eighty Mile Beach. The program is jointly funded by the Department BHP Billiton Iron Ore (BHPBIO) Eighty Mile Beach and Walyarta Conservation Program, an investment made under the BHPBIO Community Development Program.

Trainer Volker Mischker said this was a great opportunity to piggyback on the Parks and Wildlife induction program and then further work with the ranger group to consolidate all the information presented to fully align with the requirements of the relevant training package units. This is important to both ensure a thorough understanding and practical capacity to fully engage in this season’s turtle monitoring program at Eighty Mile Beach and also meet the various aspects of the study program.

“It was very exciting and informative for the rangers to be able to distinguish false crawls from actual nests and locate and identify both introduced and native predator tracks throughout the nesting areas,” Mr Mischker said.

Group discussions were also held amongst the Ranger groups as to how best inform and educate the public of the Flatback Turtle nesting times, beach use and access considerations.

The rangers have calculated the incubation period from the early nests and are very keen to undertake some night time observations in mid-December to observe the first of the hatchlings to emerge and make their perilous journey into the sea. This also provides a great opportunity to finalise observations and reports and further monitor visitor and seasonal interactions with the nests and the hatchlings.

Nyangumarta country covers a wide range of ecosystems, from the Eighty Mile Beach Marine Park in the west, to the desert sand dunes and waterholes of the eastern side of the area.

“Caring for our traditional lands through ranger work is an important job, and one that is highly sought after in our community,” ranger Lynette Wilridge said.

We are learning and passing on to our younger generation about how to care for the land.

For more information, contact Grey Mackay.

Image: Rangers learn about turtle monitoring (courtesy of Greening Australia WA)