Biodiversity Research with Anindilyakwa Rangers

Our team has headed back up to Groote Eylandt (and I'm still here ... sigh ... ), so I thought I might take this opportunity to talk more about our collaboration with the Anindilyakwa people of the island. We have much to learn from each other - but more than that, collaboration between scientists and Indigenous peoples can be a rewarding and effective means of conserving the environment.

Aboriginal Australians have a powerful cultural connection to their environment. It sustains them, physically and spiritually. Conservation of biodiversity is innate, and information about the environment - the organisms that inhabit it, the seasonality of events - have been passed down via narratives and stories for thousands of years. Though this knowledge is more qualitative than quantitative, it represents a long-term picture of the environment that few, if any, scientific studies would provide.

Besides, the ability of Aboriginal trackers and rangers to navigate the bush is incomparable - which facilitates conservation-based studies of wildlife, including the northern quoll. On our trips to Groote Eylandt, our team trains the Indigenous Rangers in scientific methods of capturing, tagging, and 'processing' animals. We talk through research ideas, hypotheses, protocols, and analyses with them. And we absorb their beautiful culture.

We'll be sharing more about our current trip shortly, including photos of some very non-quoll-related fish, and a story about why Billy is currently sitting poolside at the resort, rather than working. (Ahem)