Kenya Maasai Ranger Exchange

The Thin Green Line organised an exchange between Australian indigenous ranger and Maasai rangers in Kenya. The 10 Australian rangers from Jawoyn, Kimberley and Western desert travelled with director and affiliates of the thin Green line including ambassador musician Dan Sultan.

The Maasai rangers work on community controlled land known as Conservancies where traditional land management practises such as pastrolism and occupancy overlap with conservation practises. Small scale tourism can operate within the Conservancies and poaching, hunting and development is restricted. The rangers are heavily armed and regularly come into combat with organised crime wanting to exploit ivory, skins and trophies.

We were able to experience much of the awesome large wildlife on safari, including going on patrol with Maasai rangers tracking wildlife, data collection and checking camera traps. Whilst on patrol, as it is community land, we helped herders rescue their cattle from bogs and wells as they were experiencing a drought.

The Maasai rangers were great hosts, we made a lot of friends, learnt some words, ate different tucker, got some more dance moves, swapped gifts and exchanged world views.

Please check out short documentary at https://youtu.be/jWjEcPDRQhg

https://www.facebook.com/thefeedsbsviceland/videos/533401353660242/

Conways firefight

 

Late in October a fir flared up north of Bullock head yard just past Beswick on the Bagala Land Trust.

The rangers were quick to react and at the ignition point found a beheaded buffalo that had been trophied over the weekend. With the aid of a chopper and Junior a Bagala ranger we got to fire with a vehicle. The chopper crew blew one flank of the fire with leaf blowers and the other flank was controlled by dragging two buffalos creating a firebreak to work off.

It was very hot and dry there was a large resident mob of buffalos that had spoilt all the springs making the water dirty. We had to fly 5kms to top up fresh water to keep us going.

This fire was fought largely within Conway’s Station on our boundary and we able to halt the fire crossing to our country and therefore saved lots of carbon credits. We also controlled it before burnt out a large old Callitris Pine stand with many seedlings beginning to emerge.

Civil construction continues September

15 Jawoyn rangers have been participating in a civil construction course. All training is doubles as a practical and we are completing a buffalo exclusive around the Barnatjarl homestead, main spring and important cultural sites. At the same time we are digging a bigger dump and completing minor road repairs.

Everyone is having heaps of fun and our Barnatjarl base is becoming more complete and homely for us. The rangers are doing well on the machinery with last training block having the addition of a dozer and larger excavator. We are aiming to have a roading team once we have completed this course.

 

Gouldian Finch Surveys

Jawoyn rangers have been trailing finch survey methods with Territory NRM. Time lapse camers were placed at known finch holes, places they always drink at. We then completed 3 hour counts from daybreak over a week with results compared. It is proposed by having time lapse camera fewer people can cover a larger area.

Rangers and green army participants have been out trapping finches with researches from CDU. The research will require the collection of specimens and tissue/blood samples, for both morphometric and genetic analysis. We are wanting to participate in this research for the interest of unique and important birds on our country, to develop more research skills and contacts and to understand better ecological interactions that will inform our management plans to make better use of funding and capacity.

 

Snowdrop Rock Art Maintenance

 

As the ranger team had put out a fire just east of Snowdrop it was decided we would check a very prominent art area. A couple of our elders where keen to revisit their country so this provided us with a unique opportunity to maintain, re connect and assess what was saved from supressing the wildfire.

It was a story of the good, bad and ugly as some sites had been adversely effected from feral animals, some by fire, some had large fuel loads which would have been scored by the wildfire. Some sites were still in immaculate condition and breathtaking. Maintenance work included scraping away wasp nest, raking leaf litter and pruning vegetation.

Camping with elders at reasonable size gorge resulting the fishing of 36 turtles and it was concluded that the old artists of the area were as happy with our work as we were with theirs.

Wildfire season

The wildfire season has kicked off for the Jawoyn Rangers with the first battle just east of the top of Snowdrop Creek on the Arnhem Plateau. A small group of rangers with the assistance of a helicopter were able to get around it within a week. As it was early in the firefighting season weather and grass fuel was a little forgiving.

As part of firefighting preparations Jawoyn rangers had some practical training with a professional fireman from Darwin. The terrain and techniques were different from the CBD, but ideas of safety concerns and team structure were put to practical test on a fire just north of Beswick at Dook Creek.

This year we had a mid-season planning season where with the help of fine scale GIS data the team identified high risk areas and potential fire outbreaks that we would immediately respond too. This was immediately put to the test at Snowdrop creek.

The Council of Australian Ranger Associations 2017 Forum

Jawoyn rangers assisted with hosting the CARA national ranger conference at Nitmiluk last week. Rangers from around Australia descended on Katherine for an informative forum with fun side activities.

Jawoyn rangers presented on 4 topics including our Territory Conservation Agreement, Gamba control, savanna burning methodology and joint management. Some of our rangers are members of Northern Territory Ranger Association and participated in national council meetings and the NT AGM. A celbratory cake was cut for the 25 year anniversary of the International Ranger Federation as this organisation founded in 1992, has a membership of 63 ranger associations from 46 countries, on six of the seven continents

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJawoyn rangers also lead tours for our visiting colleagues to Hot Springs, Leliyn Falls and a bush walk through Nitmiluk. It was a lot of fun and we hope to meet our ranger friends again possibly where they work.

Civil Construction Training

 

Jawoyn rangers commenced our civil construction course which is fully funded by CMFEU. We began clearing our fence line for our Territory Conservation Agreement with the equipment provided for training. We will use an excavator, grader and our tipper and frontend loader. 2 kms were cleared and graded after our first few days of training.

Looking forward to the next sessions!

Nitmiluk Culture Camps

 

2 separate camps took place within Nitmiluk National Park on the last week of school holidays. Steven Andrews took 20 Jawoyn youth to Nitmiluk Gorge to fish, canoe and walk for the week. He was assisted by 2 casual rangers and 2 elders. Everyone thought it was awesome. Walking on the Nitmiluk gorge stone country was hard going, but canoeing back down was very rewarding.

The other expedition had 20 men head off to the very top of the Fergusson headwaters on the Marrawal Plateau. The stone country before where the river pummels down to the low country below has much rock art. Old know sites were revisited and assessed and new sites where found throughout the week.

Bush trips

 

The last month has been a real busy time for the rangers. We have our usual tasks with a greater emphasis put on managing cultural areas as we have many others come out bush due to the school holidays.

More time is spent on getting to harder to reach places and more time spent in detail observation. Jobs include checking rock art, photo point monitoring, track repairs and gathering bush tucker. Most of the burning in now complete with some minor linking of fire breaks necessary.

In the 4 weeks of school holidays the Jawoyn rangers were involved in 6 separate bush trips involving additional participants wanting to get back out on country.