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Working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

Katiti-Petermann IPA, Kaltukatjara Rangers and Mutijulu Tjakura Rangers

The Central Land Council's Kaltukatjara Rangers and Mutijulu Tjakura Rangers manage the five million hectare Katiti-Petermann Indigenous Protected Area (IPA), which was dedicated in 2015. Between them, one dozen Aboriginal rangers manage an area of Aboriginal freehold land larger than Switzerland.

Katit-Petermann IPA surrounds and dwarfs the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and is part of a vast network of protected areas straddling the borders of the Northern Territory, Western Australia and South Australia. Numerous Dreaming lines criss-cross the IPA, which shelters many sites of cultural importance to its Anangu Traditional Owners. It also supports diverse plant and animal communities, including threatened species such as the tjakura (great desert skink), murtja (brush-tailed mulgara) and warru (black-footed rock wallaby).

The Mutitjulu-based Tjakura Rangers joined the Kaltukatjara Rangers from Docker River in 2018. The two groups plan and implement Anangu cultural and natural resource management priorities for the IPA, carrying out collaborative surveys using traditional tracking skills and the cutting edge Tracks app to monitor significant plants and animals, and inform conservation initiatives.

During the cool time, the rangers take part in cross-border fire management to reduce the impact and frequency of devastating summer wildfires through traditional patchwork and aerial burning. They also cull feral camels as part of the Australian Feral Camel Management project, which has seen tens of thousands of camels removed from the IPA and important waterholes protected from these camels and invasive weeds.

The rangers accompany their Elders on visits to important cultural sites where young Anangu learn about Tjukurpa (Dreaming) and site protection. They also maintain facilities along the Tjukaruru Road, a section of the Outback Way. Increasing tourism numbers headed for the Kaltukatjara campground, Tjunti (Lasseter's Cave) and fledgling Aboriginal tourism initiatives pose new challenges for the ranger groups, such as unregulated camping and the destructive spread of buffel grass.

NT - Central Australian region
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Administration Organisation
Central Land Council
Katiti-Petermann IPA dedication ceremony. Photo: © Central Land Council
Katiti-Petermann IPA dedication ceremony. Photo: © Central Land Council