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Land Rights News Central Australia: Land Rights News (September 2010)

Published: September, 2010

Warlpiri rangers survey the Tanami

A highlight of the survey was the rangers finding an abundance of bilbies at the lake, concentrated on areas rich with Janmarda (bush onion) and important seed grasses.

Although the area didn’t get the same amount of rain as parts of the Tanami further south and west, it looks healthy and green with lots of new growth in areas burnt by rangers and traditional owners over the past three years.

Traditional owners, rangers, CLC staff and Bushfires NT staff used a helicopter for the second year in a row to undertake aerial incendiary burns of over 40,000 square kilometres of country.

Ranger Richie Williams was able, for the first time, to use skills operating the Raindance aerial incendiary machine he’d learnt at this year’s CLC ranger camp.

This year’s burning focused on protecting important cultural sites and fire-sensitive mulga areas vulnerable to wildfires when surrounding spinifex grasses reach maturity.

By burning in winter, traditional owners and rangers ensure destructive wildfires, known to sweep across the Tanami during the hot months, are kept at bay.

Throughout the visit, traditional owners worked tirelessly to map their country. Aided by a collaboration with WETT media trainees, the traditional owners travelled to different habitat types to record the different plants, animals, Jukkurrpa, hydrology and landforms found there.

Rangers will work to collate this information and develop maps and resources documenting Warlpiri land types that can be used by the rangers in the field and as educational resources for Warlpiri people.

Other highlights included walking 15 kilometres through the sand hills to reach Yinapaka (Lake Surprise). The idea came about when rangers started talking up the idea of walking country after revisiting soakages that had not been visited in 20 years or more.

The helicopter was used to ferry the rangers to an isolated place marked by Ngapiri trees (river red gums) in the steep reticulate dunefield that cannot be reached by Toyota.

As the rangers walked, they recorded signs of animals onto a cyber tracker. The walk took six hours – they are keen to follow it up next year with a walk north from the lake to an important soakage.