Remote communities combine skills and knowledge in the shared objective of ridding their lands of feral cats

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As part of KJ’s land management program, Martu Ranger teams have been monitoring threatened species and feral predators, in the Western Desert.  Martu Rangers have been combiningtraditional knowledge and western science to monitor threatened species such as the greater bilby, the great desert skink and mulgara.

The country around Punmu contains some of the last wild populations of the greater bilby, the great desert skink and mulgara. All three are listed as vulnerable on the Australian Government's Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act.  Feral cats have been recorded in the majority of the KJ fauna monitoring plots and further research programs between Martu and scientists is required to determine the impact of these feral predators.

On October 11-13, KJ Martu rangers in Punmu community hosted a three-day workshop to share ideas, skills and methods to manage and monitor threatened species.  Participants came from the men’s and women’s ranger teams at Punmu and Parrngurr (KJ), Kiwirrkurra (Central Desert Native Title Services), Christine Michaels (Nyirripi Ranger - Central Land Council) and ecologists (Dr Rachel Paltridge, Desert Wildlife Services and Alicia Whittington, DPAW.

Other topics discussed during the workshop included:
- monitoring methods
- fire management strategies
- reinvigorating traditional methods of cat hunting and
- other feral animal control methods

Discussions were also held about the ‘cat bounty system’ in place for Kiwirrkurra and Nyirripi rangers, in which a one-off instant payment can be made to hunters. Martu agreed this could motivate people even further to hunt cats.

Although the temperature reached well in to the 40’s this did not stop the rangers from getting out ‘on country’ and hunting cats using traditional methods.  Five cats were tracked and successfully hunted in one and half days in an area where bilbies occur.  

This workshop is the first step towards reinvigorating the desire and capacity of Martu to hunt cats hunting in areas with threatened native species.

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