World class work
The Mayh Recovery Project is building a suite of interconnected programs and on-ground activities targeted at achieving species recovery through adaptive on-ground management and research.
The bedrock of the project is the Mayh Monitoring Network, a long-term ecological monitoring program established in 2017.
During the second half of the 20th century, parts of West Arnhem Land were dispossessed of its Traditional Owners, denying the country land management techniques used for tens of thousands of years. Without this resource management, a series of threatening processes – including destructive wildfire, feral animals (including buffalo, pigs, cats and cane toads) and invasive, exotic weed intrusions – has resulted in a 90 per cent decline in native small mammal abundance.
Traditional Owners and an in-house ecologist are combining Indigenous knowledge with western science to curb the decline in native mammals and promote species recovery across the 14,000 square kilometres of the Warddeken Indigenous Protected Area (IPA). Crucial information about the distribution and abundance of species is being collected. This baseline survey was conducted through a custom designed methodology that determined 120 survey points based on habitat type, clan estate ownership (Warddeken IPA is home to 32 clan estates) and customary knowledge. Each of 60 annual survey points (per annum) was comprehensively recorded using five remote- sensing cameras deployed for five weeks.
28 of the possible 32 mammals we could reasonably expect to detect have been spotted, including ten threatened species such as the Northern Quoll.
In 2018, 815,000 photographs were taken across 60 sites, adding to the 400,000 photographs captured in 2017. Of the 31 threatened species, 28 have been detected, including the endangered Northern Quoll (djabbo), the vulnerable endemic White-throated Grass-wren (yirlinkirrkkirr) and the Northern Brown Bandicoot (yok). The process of species identification is also strengthening linguistic vulnerability, with the Indigenous names for some species being documented for the first time.
This project employs one ecologist and 40 Indigenous rangers on a casual basis. Most of the workforce are daluk (women) rangers who set up the survey sites, input information captured in photographs into a bilingual database and produce reports in Kunwinjku (a local dialect of Bininj Kunwok) to communicate findings to Traditional Owners.