Rangers participate in a biodiversity survey 

In September, twelve Punmu rangers assisted with a biodiversity survey through the Throssell Range south of Nifty. The team set off in convoy along the Camp Tracy road to Lake Goosewhacker, where the group met with Waru man (Gareth Catt, KJ), Watto (Sarah Watson, KJ), Waka Taylor and  Butler Landy; Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions staff Leigh Sage, Judy Dunlop and Alicia Whittington; Nifty Mine’s Environmental Manager Mike Robinson and Director Steve Robinson.

Over three days, the rangers took turns installing camera traps in remote parts of the Throssell Range, accessible only by helicopter. Having received clearance from the elders, small teams travelled by chopper with Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions staff to the ranges south and southwest of Nifty in order to undertake a threatened species survey. In 2016, one lone male wiminyji (Northern Quoll)was located by rangers in the Desert Queen Baths area, however little is known about the Pilbara population of wiminyji, and what impacts like climate change and altered fire regimes may have on their future survival. Loaded with backpacks, camera traps, silicon guns, walkie talkies and peanut butter and sardine baits, rangers walked along remote gorges, rock holes and gullies looking for signs of the elusive wiminyji and warru (Black-flanked rock wallaby). A number of cameras were installed near waterholes specifically targeting warru

Twenty-six camera traps were installed across a variety of landscapes. Although no sign of warru was found, wiminyji scat was located in several locations. DNA testing confirmed that there are at least four individual wiminyji living in the area, an exciting result. Closer to camp, the teams learnt how to set up a pit trap to check for small mammals and reptiles, digging the trench, opening the traps each night before ruka-ruka (sunset) and checking them in the early morning before the sun’s heat. The area is regenerating after a wildfire. The rangers and the Nifty environment team discussed what work could be done to recover the health of the area. 

The Punmu men's team also travelled with Leigh Sage, Waka Taylor and Butler Landy to Puljalja in the Desert Queen Baths area to recover data from the data logger installed at the site earlier in the year with The Nature Conservancy. The data was successfully retrieved and the logger reinstalled in the water hole. The rangers returned to camp with bush tucker including kirti kirti (euro) and kipara (bush turkey) making for a great complement to the fresh damper cooked by the women’s team.

The trip was a great success and was the result of a collaborative effort between Punmu rangers, Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions and Nifty Copper Mine – all members of the Throssell Coordinating Group. 

Thanks to Metals X Limited for your support. Special thanks to Alicia Whittington, Leigh Sage and Judy Dunlop (Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions), Mike Robinson (Environmental Manager Nifty), Steve Robinson (Nifty Executive) and pilot Alex from Frontier Helicopters for your unwavering support of the Martu ranger program.