Environs Kimberley is an on-going supporting partner of ranger groups across the Kimberley. EK joined 100 women at the Kimberley Women Rangers Forum to deliver workshops on biodiversity surveys and camera trapping on Country.
Kylie Weatherall, Alex James and I joined the Kimberley Land Council, WWF and 50 women ranger representatives from across the Kimberley – including Bunuba, Nyikina Mangala, Yawuru, Karajarri, Nyul Nyul, Bardi Jawi Ooranny, Ngurrara and Dambimangari – at the second annual Women Rangers Forum.
The forum was held over four nights at the base of Bandilngan (Windjana Gorge), with our camp situated beneath the Devonian rise; the charcoal striped with blood-orange cliffs glowing gold in the waning morning and afternoon light. We were fortunate to be camping during the full moon and saw the walls turn a ghostly silver under the moon’s full disk.
Kylie and Alex were tasked with guiding two workshops – Camera Trapping 101 and the 100-Step Ground Cover Survey – and discussions with the ranger teams about the practical and theoretical aspects of camera trapping and biodiversity surveys. Alex and Yawuru Ranger Sharee programming a camera trap.
Nyul Nyul Ranger Jillian setting up a camera trap.
The ranger groups selected survey sites based on the presence of tracks, or scat, and chose locations to set the cameras based on surrounding vegetation and the availability of sturdy attachment points for the cameras, such as trees or fallen logs.
The workshop provided rangers with practical experience of choosing sites to conduct surveys and how to set up camera traps. The rangers participated in discussion concerning how to place cameras to get the best images and how differing vegetation can change what animals may be present in the area. The aim of the workshop was to provide an interactive demonstration of two effective techniques for wildlife monitoring and to help ranger teams determine if camera trapping and ground cover surveys might be of use, and how the resulting information could assist with their work on Country.
Alex and Yawuru Ranger Sharee programming a camera trap.
100-Step-Ground-Cover Survey in action.
The key component of the workshop was to facilitate discussion around planning surveys with clear outcomes. These outcomes can vary from providing information on the effectiveness of a management action to keeping an eye on an important species.
With two night’s worth of data stored, the camera traps were retrieved and the photos were shared with the ranger teams at the Thursday movie night. The efforts of the rangers wasn’t in vain, with several wallabies – including both Short-eared Rock-wallabies (Petrogale brachyotis) and Agile Wallabies (Macropus agilis) – putting on a show of appreciation for trapping bait; peanut butter smeared sticks.
An Agile wallaby (Macropis agilis) eating peanut butter.
Two Short-eared Rock-wallabies (Petrogale brachyotis).
Environs Kimberley looks forward to continuing to support the leadership of women ranger groups across the Kimberley, and to returning the Kimberley Women Ranger Forum in 2020.
Article and photos by Grace Dungey/Environs Kimberley