News from the Field

Government grant secured to protect the Kimberley’s unique ecology

08 Jun. 2021
Wayne Lawler/AWC

AWC and its partners Wilinggin Aboriginal Corporation and Dambimangari Aboriginal Corporation have successfully secured a joint State Natural Resource Management (NRM) Program Grant from The Government of Western Australia to curb the impact of feral pigs on threatened wildlife and ecosystems in the Kimberley.

Up to $265,000 will be provided over a three-year period as part of the Western Australian Government’s State NRM Program to protect wildlife on Dambimangari Country and Wilinggin Country – the Traditional Lands of the People represented by Dambimangari and Wilinngin Aboriginal Corporation. A smaller component of the grant will be used at AWC’s Charnley Sanctuary.

 

Funds will be used to deal with environmental pests across 400,000 hectares of land, with a particular focus on feral pigs.
Funds will be used to deal with environmental pests across 400,000 hectares of land, with a particular focus on feral pigs.

 

Funds will be used to deal with environmental pests across 400,000 hectares of land, with a particular focus on feral pigs, which pose a growing threat in the north-west of Western Australia.

Feral pigs have an impact on threatened mammals, birds and reptiles, causing major habitat degradation through their destructive feeding behaviour, as well as damaging culturally important sites through soil disturbance. Damage from the long-term presence of feral pigs is visible in the soil disturbance across the Kimberley’s lowland savannas and riparian zones.

The grant will also assist ecologists in preventing weed species from gaining a foothold across the region and causing negative effects on both terrestrial and aquatic habitats.

 

Feral pigs cause habitat degradation which can affect local birdlife such as the Fly Catcher. Wayne Lawler/AWC
Feral pigs cause habitat degradation which can affect local birdlife such as the Fly Catcher.

 

AWC Chief Executive, Tim Allard, welcomed the awarding of the grant, saying the funds would have a positive impact on conservation of the Kimberley’s unique wildlife.

“This grant is great news for the Kimberley’s unique plants and animals – 30 of which can only be found in the Kimberley,” said Allard.

“Why do we allow these ferals to continue to destroy our sacred water sites? We need to act now to stop the damage over wide areas of our county before we lose our springs which so many of our native species rely upon. This is just one more thing that our threatened species have to put up with – threat after threat, after threat!  How many threats will be one too many, and we start to see extinctions here in the Kimberley – the last bastion of hope for many precious plants and animals.  We just can’t allow the threats to continue without trying to do something about them,” Pete O’Connor, Dambimangari Cultural Ranger.

 

Charnley River in the Rolly Hill area. Wayne Lawler/AWC
Charnley River in the Rolly Hill area.

 

“Whilst Dambimangari has relatively low feral animal numbers compared to the rest of the country, feral pigs are present in the landscape and numbers are growing. It is quite evident the damage they are doing to the sensitive ecosystems that occur throughout Dambimangari country, from fouling and erosion of riparian areas, to the heavy grazing and compaction of soil within the already susceptible rainforest pockets. Swift action now to control feral pig numbers is just one step at retaining the wild beauty of Dambimangari country,” Josh Vartto, Dambimangari Ranger Co-ordinator.

The 2.85 million hectares of land covered by the grant is managed by the Australian Wildlife Conservancy (Charley River-Artesian Range), or in collaborative partnerships with the Wilinggin Aboriginal Corporation (WAC) and Dambimangari Aboriginal Corporation (DAC).

 

Removing feral pigs helps protect the habitat for local wildlife such as Northern Quolls. Wayne Lawler/AWC
Removing feral pigs helps protect the habitat for local wildlife such as Northern Quolls.

 

Charnley River–Artesian Range Wildlife Sanctuary alone is home to more than 387 plants and 360 animal species. Among them are the elusive Wyulda (or Scaly-tailed possum), and endangered mammals like the Golden-backed Tree-rat and Golden Bandicoot – species which have disappeared from large parts of their historical range in northern Australia but persist in the north-west Kimberley.

Australia’s wildlife needs our help now more than ever. Please support this groundbreaking project and help save Australia’s threatened wildlife. 

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