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Paruku Rangers Abraham Calyon, Coordinator Jamie Brown and Lachlan Johns.

Paruku Rangers Abraham Calyon, Coordinator Jamie Brown and Lachlan Johns.

Paruku Rangers score second snap of rare night parrot

One of the Kimberley’s most isolated Indigenous ranger teams has for the second time photographed the elusive and critically endangered night parrot.

The Paruku Rangers, who photographed and recorded the species for the first time last year, now have a second camera trap image taken during a habitat assessment trip in October 2018.

The Great Sandy Desert location of the camera trap image, which remains a tightly held secret to protect the species, was close to the area where the rangers first photographed the bird last year.

It means the Paruku Rangers have recorded the only two known camera trap images of the rarely glimpsed bird taken outside of the well-studied population in Pullen Pullen, Queensland.

The camera trap image of the night parrot taken by the Paruku Rangers in the Great Sandy Desert.

The camera trap image of the night parrot taken by the Paruku Rangers in the Great Sandy Desert.

Paruku Ranger Coordinator Jamie Brown said the second photograph, as well as hundreds of audio recordings of the bird in the same area, provide further evidence of an important night parrot population in the Great Sandy Desert.

“As custodians for this country we feel very proud to be looking after the night parrot,” Jamie said.

“Our aim as rangers is to identify where we have a strong night parrot population and work intensely to protect that area.

“We want to look after the night parrot for our children and our children’s children.”

The Paruku rangers are well and truly leading the charge on night parrot conservation in Western Australia, also bringing together Australia’s leading scientists, other rangers and elders for a recent night parrot workshop at Lake Gregory.

Jamie said the workshop was an opportunity to discuss the best way of protecting the species.

“Fire, foxes and cats are the biggest threats to night parrots on Paruku country,” he said.

“We try to stop these threats by undertaking early season burning to reduce the impact of destructive bushfires and putting in place feral animal management plans.”

The Paruku Rangers were recently awarded an $80,000 Commonwealth threatened species grant to continue their work looking after night parrot habitat and to assist in the protection of other threatened species such as the Greater bilby.

The team works across an area of more than 25,000 square kilometres, including the Paruku Indigenous Protected Area (IPA), and are based out of the small Aboriginal community of Mulan on the edge of the Great Sandy and Tanami Deserts, more than 12 hours from Broome.

The Paruku rangers look after the Tjurabalan Native Title area and greater Paruku region. They are supported in their work by the Tjurabalan Native Title Lands Aboriginal Corporation, the Kimberley Land Council, and the KLC’s Kimberley Ranger Network – an alliance of Indigenous ranger teams across the region.

Kimberley Land Council Acting CEO Tyronne Garstone said the night parrot work being undertaken by the rangers was clear evidence of the value of having Aboriginal people working on country.

“What is clear from this latest photograph is that you need Traditional Owners who are on the ground and experts in their country, to help save and look after endangered species,” Mr Garstone said.

“Indigenous rangers have intricate knowledge of their country. This comes from generations of dreamings and stories handed down throughout the ages.

“If not for the Paruku Rangers and local elders, we’d never know that this population of night parrot existed.”

Jamie said it was also really important to acknowledge those people and groups who have assisted the rangers.

“I would like to acknowledge my elders, the Traditional Owners of this country. Without them none of this would be possible. They are the backbone of everything we do,” he said.

“I’d like to thank my brothers the rangers who are out there working with me every day and also my family, the elders and all the different family groups, as well as my colleagues at the Kimberley Land Council who have supported me all the way, WWF, the Broome Bird Observatory, Environs Kimberley and the Honourable Minister Melissa Price and Threatened Species Commissioner Dr Sally Box – we couldn’t do our job without their support.”

The night parrot workshop held at Lake Gregory was supported by a range of organisations, including the KLC, WWF Australia and Environs Kimberley.

For more information about the Paruku IPA and to obtain a permit if you would like to visit the area, please visit https://parukuipa.org.au/. The Kimberley Ranger Network is supported by the Commonwealth Government. 

Paruku Rangers discuss capturing a photo of the night parrot for the first time in 2017.