In the heartland of Warlpiri country, Traditional Owners have dedicated Australia’s largest Indigenous Protected Area (IPA), the Southern Tanami. Dedicated in July 2012 and stretching across 10.16 million hectares, it is a critical part of the proposed Trans-Australian Eco-link. This serves as an internationally significant wildlife corridor stretching more than 3,500 kilometres from Arnhem Land to the Great Australian Bight.
The Southern Tanami is rich in cultural and natural values, with the IPA linking central Australia's deserts to subtropical savannahs. Rising from the arid landscape in the south are the red, rocky hills of the Reynolds and Truer ranges. Dotting the sand dunes and plains are salt pans, spinifex tussocks and flowering shrubs. Hidden beneath the desert sands are threatened animals such as the iconic bilby, colourful great desert skink and brush-tailed mulgara, a small marsupial hunter.
The Warlpiri rangers work on Warlpiri lands which includes most of the Southern Tanami Indigenous Protected Area. Overseen by a Traditional Owner management committee from the Yuendumu, Nyrripi and Willowra communities, the Warlpiri Rangers are drawn from a pool of local Warlpiri people with skills to do the important work of caring for country. They use a strong two-way management approach, combining Yapa (Aboriginal) and Kardiya (non-Aboriginal) knowledge.
One of the rangers’ major tasks is patch burning to rejuvenate country, provide wildlife habitat and reduce wildfires. Their work also includes biodiversity surveys, bilby monitoring and some fee-for-service work with Granites Mines. Their work in regenerating vegetation makes it easier for people to get bush tucker such as bush turkey.