Aboriginal rangers have become the largest conservation work-force in Australia, managing over 9% of Australia’s landmass. Most of this area is extremely remote, making it difficult to visit and monitor significant biodiverse and cultural sites, and effectively plan, evaluate and adapt conservation management activities and maintain strong cultural connections.
Environs Kimberley, Karajarri Traditional Lands Association and Walker Services have developed a project to use cutting-edge technology to increase the quality and quantity of data helping Aboriginal rangers with their conservation land management.
The Pirra pani pijarra: Desert eyes and ears project will work with the Karajarri Rangers (supported by the Kimberley Land Council) on their Indigenous Protected Area (24,797 km2) in the Great Sandy Desert to develop a network of equipment for monitoring biodiversity and cultural sites (e.g. cameras, audio recorders; pani (eyes) and pijarra (ears)). This network will be wirelessly connected back to the ranger base and Karajarri community, allowing the rangers to access the data more frequently between on-country trips. Algorithm-driven software will then help rangers sort the large number of animal images and sounds recorded by the equipment, helping them to identify animal species and reducing data-processing time. Additionally, an immersive space will be established in the Karajarri community with speakers and projectors to display the images and sounds of remote cultural sites, enabling Karajarri and other people to ‘virtually’ visit remote sites, allowing them to connect cultural ceremonies and education to remote country between on-country visits.
This project can be scaled up to include other Aboriginal ranger groups and conservation land managers protecting an additional 10% of Australian natural landscapes and species.
Sound like a great project? Well, you can help fund it by voting for the project in the Google Impact Challenge Australia 2018 from October 9th – 30th 2018.