Friday, 23 March 2018

'Bilby blitz': Indigenous rangers use bilingual tracking app to preserve species

Surveys across millions of hectares of central Australia will be used to inform threatened species recovery plan

Tue 20 Mar 2018 03.16 GMTLast modified on Tue 20 Mar 2018 03.25 GMT

Aboriginal rangers will use a new bilingual tracking app to record sightings of signs of bilby habitation in a new “bilby blitz” program.

Twenty ranger groups from organisations in the Northern Territory and Western Australia, including the Central Land Council, Kimberley Land Council, Central Desert Native Title Services, Kanyirninpa Jukurrpa and the Ngaanyatjarra Council, will take part in the survey, which was launched at the CLC ranger camp at Hamilton Downs near Alice Springs on Tuesday.
The rangers will log signs of the greater bilby or Macrotis lagotis, including tracks, scats, diggings and burrows, in the new Tracks app, developed for the CLC.

It is available in English and Warlpiri and will be expanded to include other central desert languages, such as Pintupi, Warlmanpa and Arrernte, in the next 12 months.

Craig Le Rossignol, coordinator of the Tjuwanpa or Hermannsburg ranger group, said the app allowed Aboriginal people to store and share knowledge about their country, some of which, like the bilby count, would be used to inform western science. Sensitive cultural information would not be shared.

He said the process of collecting, recording and sharing information was just as valuable for Aboriginal people, who store information “in the heads.”

“The key for Aboriginal life is continuation,” he said. “The key is that information, that continued information, that keeps us going.”

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