Pastoralists and Indigenous rangers unite to protect Purple-crowned Fairy-wren

[May 2015]

The Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia (DAFWA) last month rejoined with Wungurr Rangers and pastoralists in the north-west Kimberley in an effort to protect the habitat of the endangered Purple-crowned Fairy-wren.

DAFWA Biosecurity Officer Tracey Vinnicombe, who coordinated the Rangelands NRM-funded project, said the team covered nearly 49 hectares within the Wilinggin Indigenous Protection Area to resurvey and control ‘Ornamental rubbervine’ (Cryptostegia madagascariensis).

Ms Vinnicombe said the weed was starting to degrade the bird habitat along banks of the Adcock River at Mount House Station by choking eucalyptus and pandanus trees.

Purple_crowned fairy wren“We first treated these weeds 12 months ago and this time we were pleased to find only 99 plants – an 82 per cent decline - and were delighted to spot the inquisitive Fairy wrens,” she said.

“Importantly, this second visit gave participants a chance to share knowledge and build ability to identify the invasive weed and how to treat them.” 

The Adcock River is an important tributary of the Fitzroy River in WA’s Kimberley region. Eradication of weed infestations along its banks has positive implications for areas downstream of both rivers.

Ms Vinnicombe recommended that the site have a third and final visit in 2016.

“While this second treatment was very successful, another visit will cement the budding relationship between the Indigenous Rangers and pastoralists and also build on the skills of both in weed identification and treatment,” she said.

NOTE: Ornamental Rubbervine (Cryptostegia madagascariensis) that was treated at Mt House is different to the more virulent Rubbervine (Cryptostegia grandiflora).  DAFWA and Rangelands NRM are continuing their partnership to treat two known infestations of grandiflora at Willare and Lake Argyle.

Images: Wunggurr rangers, Robin Dann (foreground) and Kevin Dann, clearing ornamental Rubbervine.
Purple-crowned Fairy wren. Photos courtesy of Tracey Vinnicombe, DAFWA