Nanda women protect Malleefowl on country

NACC recently partnered with Bush Heritage Australia to engage Aboriginal women with Malleefowl monitoring on country – as part of the training and capacity-building components of NACC’s Midwest Aboriginal Ranger Program.

Julie Dwyer, Irene, Jacklyn and Clurrissa Kelly, Monique Darcy and Samara Martin
Julie Dwyer, Irene, Jacklyn and Clurrissa Kelly, Monique Darcy and Samara Martin

The program was created late last year to provide opportunities for Aboriginal people across the Midwest to engage in Natural Resource Management activities.

Clurissa Kelly
Clurissa Kelly

Bush Heritage Reserve Ecologist, Ben Parkhurst invited Traditional Custodian Irene Kelly and family to attend this year’s program, alongside the volunteer workers at the regular Malleefowl monitoring on Eurardy Reserve.

Thanks to Bush Heritage and the Midwest Aboriginal Ranger Program, the group of Nanda women, along with NACC Aboriginal Program Coordinator Bianca McNeair, were able to venture on-country for several days.

Ben Parkhurst led the group of women in collecting Malleefowl data including recording Malleefowl mounds’ depth, width and circumference. They also recorded whether the observed mounds had been active or not in 2017. There was a lot of bush walking involved through country to record all the mounds, and Ben split up the team up into small groups to cover a wider area.

“The group discussed how endangered the Malleefowl actually is, and the ever-growing need to protect their environment and the surrounding landscape,” said Bianca.

“The women all learnt a lot, and were amazed that such a little bird could build such a huge dirt-mound all by itself.”

Clurrissa Kelly, Samara Martin, Monique Darcy and Jacklyn Kelly at the Eurardy Reserve homestead.
Clurrissa Kelly, Samara Martin, Monique Darcy and Jacklyn Kelly at the
Eurardy Reserve homestead.

Fun fact: It takes the male Malleefowl approximately 300 days to build the nesting mound – collecting twigs, branches, leaves and sand; and then making sure it’s ready for his mate to lay her eggs.  

“Our children are the future, therefore we need to encourage more family outings on country like this – to teach them the importance of working together to protect all animals and wildlife in our natural environment,” said Nanda Traditional Custodian Irene Kelly.

“Working on-country helps reinforce our sense of belonging, and shows our children that this is our traditional cultural heritage, our language and that we have a responsibility to look after our land,” she said.

On the outing, the group enjoyed photographing various animal bush tracks and trying to identify what species they belonged to. In their spare time, the group decorated their hats with flowers, and designs of local land and marine animals that depicted their connection to Nanda country.

Jacklyn Kelly and Bush Heritage's Ben Parkhurst
Jacklyn Kelly and Bush Heritage’s Ben Parkhurst

Everyone involved agreed that they would like to see programs like the Midwest Aboriginal Ranger Program developed for regions all across Australia, and for women to be given opportunities in ranger roles as well.

For further information, please contact Bianca McNeair on (08) 9938 0129 or email [email protected]

NACC acknowledges Aboriginal people as the original natural resource managers of the land that we live on today. 

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