Indigenous graduates offer their hand to protect endangered cockatoos in Badgebup

Headshot of Tom Shanahan
Tom ShanahanGreat Southern Herald
Badgebup Aboriginal Corporation members check on the nest of a Carnaby's black cockatoo, inset.
Camera IconBadgebup Aboriginal Corporation members check on the nest of a Carnaby's black cockatoo, inset.

Reconnecting Aboriginal people with the Great Southern land and wildlife so deeply embedded in their culture is one of the driving aims of Badgebup Aboriginal Corporation’s Aboriginal Ranger Program.

Indigenous graduates from the first intake of Certificate II in Conservation and Land have ventured out to the Badgebup and Kwobrup reserves as part of the Carnaby’s cockatoo project.

The graduates, based in Katanning and Gnowangerup, joined Birdlife WA to record the Carnaby’s cockatoo breeding numbers this season.

Handed a 16m “Cocky Cam”, they used the device to look into the nests and record evidence to bolster Birdlife WA’s Statewide monitoring of the endangered species. The Carnaby’s black cockatoo is endemic to the South West and is facing a threat of extinction from egg poaching, mining and deforestation, with an estimated 87 per cent of its natural habitat cleared.

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Senior ranger Johnny Rodd said part of the plan was to record existing populations and identify food sources in the region.

“It is very important for our mob to get back on country and engage in new activities. Monitoring population of birds and learning how to use the new equipment has been rewarding for all of us,” he said.

Graduate supervisor Jacob Crowe said the program gave participants the skills and knowledge needed to get involved in efforts to save the species.

“The issue for the birds is not so much a lack of suitable nests, like it is in some areas around Albany ... but a lack of food sources is often the problem,” he said.

“So I am working with them to identify the right species of acacia and banksia for planting out in the local reserves.

“So in that way, you’re potentially helping out the environment by getting more people collecting data and doing good things for it and then you’re also assisting in cultural revitalisation as well.”

Mr Crowe said he had enjoyed all of his time with the Badgebup Aboriginal Corporation, but the Carnaby’s cockatoo project had been the highlight.

“The Carnaby species are threatened and this project is a great way for us to try and prevent further decline in numbers,” he said. “During the project, we had 20 Noongars walking through the Badgebup and Kwobrup reserves monitoring Carnaby populations and habitats and that was the most that I have worked with at any one time.

“There was an added level of excitement and engagement which I hadn’t seen before ... being out in the bush, walking around, having fun and being in that learning environment.”

Badgebup acting chief executive Julie Hayden said the Carnaby’s cockatoo project was the first of several “special projects” the corporation had planned for the region.

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