Three Aboriginal women, all from the Malgana (Shark Bay) area, recently took part in the annual Bush Heritage Australia volunteer pit-fall trapping program at Hamelin Station Reserve.
NACC Aboriginal Participation Program Coordinator Bianca McNeair, Central Regional TAFE Animal Studies student Nykita McNeair, and aspiring Aboriginal ranger Rhodessa Oakley spent the week under the wings of Bush Heritage Reserve Ecologist Ben Parkhurst, learning about Bush Heritage conservation projects, scientific species identification, species conservation, and sharing Traditional Ecological Knowledge.
The group learnt about the different gecko, lizard and dragon species found in the area, and even trapped and recorded a rare Hamelin skink during their trials.
The women were also able to visit the original site of the Boolagooda Station homestead and they gave recommendations about Aboriginal site management, shared Malgana language names, and practised their tracking skills.
The three women were also able to meet with Malgana Elders and discuss what they were doing at the Reserve.
“Our Aunties were very proud to see their thurdu’s (daughters in Malgana language) getting out on country and taking care of the place,” said Rhodessa.
Nykita said the pitfall trapping was an interesting way to learn from the other volunteers and to share Malgana knowledge.
“I learnt scientific names for specific species, and was also able to learn the Malgana language names for some of those species too,” she said.
The time spent on country also provided the opportunity to share stories of Malgana culture and family connections, and to plan future on-country cultural opportunities.
Bianca said spending time on traditional country gave her a renewed strength to carry on, no matter what was going on in her life.
“It reminds us of our responsibility as Aboriginal women, our ancestral linkage to country and each other, and the role we play in conserving our environment and culture,” she said.
Bianca said the three women are now looking for additional training and experience opportunities to further develop their skills on country, while also building their own cultural knowledge.
If you are an Aboriginal women living in the NAR, and interested in furthering your skills on country, please call Bianca McNeair to find out about how you can become involved in the Capacity Building for Aboriginal Women Rangers project.
This project is supported by the Northern Agricultural Catchments Council in collaboration with Rangelands NRM, through funding from the Australian Government’s Prime Minister and Cabinet Indigenous Advancement Strategy.