Yanunijarra Aboriginal Corporation’s Ngurrara Rangers are working alongside Traditional Owners to care for Ngurrara Country through their fire management plan.

The Ngurrara rangers care for Ngurrara Country which includes Warlu Jilajaa Jumu Indigenous protected area and the Great Sandy Desert. It is one of the biggest Native Title claims in the nation.

CEO of Yanunijarra Aboriginal Corporation Peter Murray said having Traditional Owners work alongside the rangers allows transparency and greater access to knowledge.

“Having Traditional Owners onboard gives us clearance to access Country, that’s our cultural protocol,” he said.

“Using traditional knowledge while burning on mainstream land and working with Traditional Owners, helps us look at Country regarding where and when to burn.”

Murray said using the right methods protects the community and revitalises Country.

“Our long-term goal is to control the wildfire season, as it travels throughout Country it could impact communities and infrastructure,” he said

“Being able to control the fires and fire burning practice, using the right methods Country can be brought back life.”

In May and June of this year the rangers and Traditional Owners conducted a two-week program of on the ground and aerial early season burning.

In response to those burns, the rangers joined forces with Karajarri Rangers in September and began the first biodiversity survey.

The survey saw eight sites established. Traps were set up and checked morning and evening, to understand movements of animals.

A scoreboard of animals trapped was recorded so results could be tracked, and preferred animal habitats could be identified.

The rangers also completed a vegetation survey.

Traditional Owner Alfie and Ranger Hamish. Photo Supplied ©10DP_Ngurrara rangers

10 Deserts Project funding has enabled the rangers to deliver the intensive fire management program with support from the Kimberley Land Council.

Murray said that the funding allowed more time to review the fire management plans.

“The funding gave us more flying time for aerial burning, we could train our rangers in certificates two and three in fire management,” he said

“It opened up so much more opportunity for Traditional Owners to have access to Country.

“We were able to look at how we can better our burning methods we had time to review traditional burning methods, patchwork and mosaic burning.”

Rangers putting up the drone. Photo Supplied ©10DP_Ngurrara rangers

10 Desert Project said they were proud to support the ranger team in their work.

“The organisation is proud to support the Ngururra ranger team and other work, including Indigenous Culture and Ecological Knowledge (ICEK), fire and tourism in the Ngururra determination,” they said.

“The Ngururra determination is a very large area, with travel and access requiring considerable planning and logistics – but the rangers are an impressive team, demonstrating high-level skills in operations planning and always looking for opportunities to be on Country.”

The Ngururra ranger program supports connection in community.

Ngurrara Women’s Ranger Coordinator Chantelle Murray said that the program is an important tool to connect the youth with Traditional Owners and Elders.

“The ranger program is the key to engage with the young people, get them away from trouble and back out onto Country,” she said.

“They can connect with the old people and learn what they need to about their Country to carry that with them.”

Ranger Emily setting up a bucket trap. Photo Supplied ©10DP_Ngurrara rangers

Murray added that the involvement of women in the teams is imperative in the work that the rangers do.

“The women need to be involved and connected to Country we are nurturers of the land,” Murray said.

“They understand bush medicine, bush food and hold the knowledge in terms of women’s business out on Country.”

“I have a team of six rangers working with me, and there are a group of women working on their certificates in fire management. We must bring our knowledge and perspective.”

By Darby Ingram