Bilbies are listed as Vulnerable under the EPBC act due to feral cats, foxes, changed habitat and fire as documented in the Federal Bilby Recovery Plan. Similarly, these are identified as key threats to country and culture in the Gooniyandi Healthy Country Plan, in addition to other threats such as the loss of cultural knowledge. Environs Kimberley will develop a management plan to protect the vulnerable greater bilby on Gooniyandi country Fitzroy Crossing, the Kimberley, WA.
This project was funded through generous donations from FNPW supporters across Australia and beyond.
Grant round: Community Conservations Grants 2021
A previous project identified an important and reliable bilby population that is most likely healthy due to traditional management activities. Traditional owners wanted to focus on this area to better understand and ensure their conservation and transfer cultural knowledge.
Environs Kimberley will partner with Gooniyandi traditional owners and Rangers to carry out three main outcomes:
- Increase the knowledge of the key bilby population and their threats. Two field trips will map the bilby distribution and population size using standardised searches, DNA population monitoring and traditional knowledge. Their habitat will be mapped utilising drone technology. Lastly, key threats will be mapped using surveys, data and remote sensing.
- Carry out management of this key bilby population. A site management plan will be developed, with initial management activities carried out using scientific and traditional management techniques. This includes managing feral animals through trapping, and fire through fire management to increase suitable bilby habitat, resources and fire regimes.
- Increase the transfer of bilby cultural and scientific knowledge to the community. They will engage the local community in field activities with elders and youth allowing intergenerational knowledge transfer. Traditional bilby knowledge will be documented and produce a school workshop activity to be trialed in local Gooniyandi schools, with the goal to adapt this to other cultrual groups.
To properly succeed in effective conservation of the population and transfer knowledge to the younger generation, project activities will need to be carried over multiple years.
This project is undertaken on the traditional lands of the Gooniyandi people.
FNPW supports projects across Australia. In the spirit of reconciliation the we acknowledge the Traditional Owners of Country and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and culture.
PROGRESS OF THIS PROJECT
The project is ongoing. Please scroll for latest updates.
This project was funded by FNPW in 2021.
Latest news on this project.
Unlike many places in Australia, the Greater Bilby (Macrotis lagotis) is still present in the Kimberley in Western Australia due to no or lower densities of rabbits and foxes, and ongoing management by Aboriginal rangers. This makes it an important wild refugia in Australia. Unfortunately, bilbies are still threatened in the region by habitat changes resulting from wrong-way fire, land-clearing and over-grazing.
Bilbies are culturally important animals to Aboriginal peoples in the Kimberley, having an important place in Dreaming stories, songs and dances across a number of different language groups. They are ecologically important as well, acting as an ecosystem engineer whose burrows provide shelter for other animals and whose foraging increases seed propagation and therefore regeneration after clearing, drought or fire.
Environs Kimberley has been supporting Aboriginal Rangers in the Kimberley with bilby conservation work for many years now, and this will continue through new funding from the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife and Rangelands NRM.
This new project will support Aboriginal Rangers from the Fitzroy Crossing region to further document bilbies and manage their threats through:
- Increasing the knowledge of key bilby populations and their threats through ecological surveys
- Carrying out right-way fire management around key bilby populations
- Increasing the transfer of bilby cultural and scientific knowledge to the community through signage and school engagement.
This project is an exciting next step in Ranger co-led bilby management in the Kimberley, through which the combination of cultural and scientific knowledge will help keep this wild bilby refugia healthy into the future.
Written by: Dr. Malcolm Lindsay, Ecologist, Environs Kimberley.