9 February 2016
A new project is underway in Gooniyandi Country east of Fitzroy Crossing in the Kimberley to assess threatened assets and monitor key species, in efforts to reduce the impacts of cane toads, which are a key threat to cultural and environmental values in the region.
The Kimberley Land Council-facilitated Gooniyandi Rangers and Environs Kimberley (EK) are working together on the project, supported by Rangelands NRM with funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme.
The work will increase Indigenous ranger knowledge and skills about key species as well as provide education in identifying cane toads and understanding potential impacts on key native species.
EK Project Officer Steve Reynolds said the project will involve collecting baseline information as well as merging traditional knowledge with western science to better understand the state of the key species that may be affected.
“Cane toads have an impact on those native species that see the toad as a food source,” he said.
“Cane toads have a poison gland behind their ears, which can cause irritation and when ingested can prove fatal.”
He said the sheer number of cane toads likely to be travelling across the Kimberley means it’s likely we will see localised extinctions of certain native species.
“This project seeks to reduce these impacts through education, awareness and engagement. With Indigenous ranger groups playing a key role in caring for their environment.”
The project will install a monitoring site and data collected will relate to existing species types and number estimates within the project area.
The Gooniyandi rangers will also help to identify key assets to be protected or managed against cane toad impacts.
Mr Reynolds said they have an existing relationship with Gooniyandi Rangers through Bilby projects.
“Using EK's expertise in biodiversity and in particular frog species, this project will develop a collaborative work plan to expand existing biodiversity surveys to include species associated with cane toads and cane toad impacts,” he said.
Environs Kimberley also hope to leverage existing funding to look at protection of key water assets for Gooniyandi.
Cane toads were introduced into Queensland and New South Wales in the 1930s to control beetles that were decimating sugar cane crops. In 2009 they spread into the Kimberley region of Western Australia, reaching Kununurra in 2010 and Halls Creek in 2014.
NOTES FOR EDITOR:
Rangelands NRM WA is a not for profit, non-aligned, community-based group which aims to enhance the sustainable management of the WA rangelands through facilitation, collaboration and delivering outcomes. It is the largest of the 56 NRM regions in Australia, covering around 85 per cent (2,266,000 sq km) of the WA State’s land mass, and 75 per cent of the coastline. http://www.rangelandswa.com.au
Gooniyandi Rangers on their first cane toad field trip. (L to R) Anthony Dawson, Bevan Green, Virgil Cherel, Russell Smith and Hugh James. (@Environs Kimberley)
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