Dr Sally Box, the Australian Government’s Threatened Species Commissioner, talks about the importance of working with Indigenous groups
to conserve Australia’s threatened species.
The knowledge, skills and dedication of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are critical to the effective management of Australia’s environment and heritage.
A large number of threatened species in Australia occur almost exclusively on Indigenous-owned and -managed land. Indigenous rangers and Traditional Owners maintain strong connections to their land and their ongoing participation in threatened species recovery is essential. A unique understanding of the landscape and species on their Country as well as the application of traditional management practices benefit the recovery of many species that have their strongholds on these lands.
Over 200 Indigenous rangers and Traditional Owners met to discuss threatened and culturally significant desert species and landscapes at the Species of the Desert Festival in Mulan, Western Australia in June 2019. Image: Jaana Dielenberg / Indigenous desert alliance
In June, I attended the Species of the Desert Festival along with over 200 Indigenous rangers on the Paruku Indigenous Protected Area, where the night parrot was recently discovered. It was a great honour for me to be at this event to learn from the Traditional Owners and Indigenous rangers about the cultural significances of species that occur on their Country, what habitats they occupy and what they do to protect and manage them. Ensuring there are opportunities for Indigenous ecological knowledge to inform recovery planning, and continuing to collaborate with and learn from Traditional Owners will be important to protecting many of Australia’s threatened species into the future.
Dr Sally Box
The Australian Government’s Threatened Species Commissioner
Top image: Sally Box and Simon Nally at the Species of the Desert Festival. Behind them Indigenous rangers map potential night parrot habitat on their countries.
The Threatened Species Recovery Hub is receiving an additional $2 million to deliver research and scientific advice to help support wildlife and habitat recovery efforts following Australia’s bushfire crisis. The rapid rollout of meetings and expert workshops that were planned as part of this response now faces the added and acute challenge of COVID-19.
Predation by cats is a key threat to at least 123 threatened species in Australia. Better understanding and reducing the impact of feral cats on susceptible wildlife has been a major area of research for the Threatened Species Recovery Hub. Hub Deputy Directors Professors Sarah Legge and John Woinarski take a look at our research to address Australia’s cat problem.
The 2019–20 bushfires have been extensive and – in some areas – of very high severity. Many threatened species have had most of their distributions burnt, and fire is likely to have imperilled many species not previously considered threatened. One of the post-fire challenges to population recovery that many native species will face is increased risk of predation, including by introduced foxes and cats.
Australia has many unique small- to medium-sized mammals, which are vulnerable to predation by cats and foxes, two carnivores introduced to the continent with European arrival. For many of these species, effective conservation means heavy or total suppression of cats and/or foxes.
Oliver Tester from the Office of the Threatened Species Commissioner tells us about the Australian Government’s action on feral cats.