Threats on our country are things which damage the landscape, the native plants and animals, and the shelters and ranges. Threats include things which might damage or offend our traditional cultural beliefs and cultural places. Many of the threats on our country come from things that were done in the past, like clearing vegetation or introducing feral animals. Other threats are things that might happen in the future, like climate change or not having management capacity. The threats we need to manage are:
• Climate Change
• Loss of Elders and Traditional Knowledge
• Lack of management capacity
• Cats and Foxes
• Dogs or Dingoes
Thinking carefully about the things that threaten our country helps us to decide which threats are the most serious and which ones are not so important. We did a basic rating of the seriousness of each issue for each of the targets and have given a colour to each rating (Very High: red, High: yellow, Medium: light green, Low: dark green). One of the aims of our plan is to convert as many of the yellow boxes (High threat) to green (Medium and Low threat) as we can. The main problems we will focus on are:
Goats -Nhanikuut or Pilikuut
By far the major feral pest management issue is goats (Capra hircus) with substantial damage to local environs caused by their habitation. On Mawonga goats impact all of our targets. Impacts include overgrazing on ground cover and young saplings inhibiting natural revegetation, travelling route ‘pads’ deteriorating the topsoil resulting in erosion problems and exotic weed distribution. Eradication is an antiquated term in this region, with a more appropriate description of the strategy for Mawonga being an active transient population control. The current management method is trapping and harvesting. This uses one way gates at selected tanks, whereby gates are allowed to be left open for a period of time to allow two-way access for goats to water, and then shut to allow one way access only. They are then checked regularly over a number of days and mustered and sold by a contractor. All activities in relation to goat trapping or mustering will comply with the Model Codes of Practice for the Welfare of Animals (Goat 1991 and draft Killing or Capture, Handling and Marketing of Feral Livestock Animals).
Sheep -Thumpa or Puuluraam (Ram)
Neighbouring domestic stock such as sheep (Ovus aries) have strayed into Mawonga. Boundary fence repairs will improve the ability of management to keep sheep out of Mawonga.
Climate change is happening because of the burning of fossil fuels which increases the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. What is going to happen to the climate is difficult to predict, but the climate will probably be hotter and drier with more extreme weather events.
Loss of Elders and Traditional Knowledge
This is one of the biggest threats to all our targets particularly to the health of our Ngiyampaa and Aboriginal people, Ngiyampaa Language, cultural knowledge, practices and cultural places targets. The impacts of dispossession have broken our ability to hand down of our knowledge and culture from generation to generation. With no access to our country to speak our language, to teach our stories in the right place this knowledge has been lost. We only have a few Elders who know our stories and speak some of our language left and they are ageing.
Lack of management capacity
The health of our people depends on the health of our country. When we manage our land we strive for a balance between the land’s cultural significance with the need for some level of financial independence for our people. There are a limited number of people available for the management of Mawonga and who have the time and interest in being part of WAC’s functioning. We are in our early stages of managing Mawonga IPA and have limited financial resources with which to train and build our human resources, our community’s skills and to be able to employ community members as part of our cultural and land management team. We are taking a partnership approach to work with organisations that can support us in developing financial independence and skills, however communicating with and managing relationships takes skills and time too.
Karraa wii ngalanma-l-kaa Don’t encourage the fire!
Our ancestors used fire management techniques known as firestick farming in both pre and post contact times for many reasons such as to regenerate country, in ceremony and clearing travelling pathways. Through this fire use, a lot of Austalia’s native flora has come to rely on fire for it’s reproduction and renewal, fire events are interwoven and an essential part of the biodiversity of this country. With the halting of this practice wildfire and in appropriate fire regimes, so fire in the wrong place at the wrong time has taken over. Wildfires have become more common in the hotter seasons, with large intense fires often started by lightning strikes. These are dramatically damaging our country and changing the biodiversity. They have the potential to cause damage to the infrastructure on Mawonga. The mallee woodlands are particularly sensitive to wildfire, wildfires remove cover for the many woodland birds, mammals and reptiles which increasing their risk of predation from cats, foxes and native raptors. Wildfires have the potential to wipe out whole populations of Yungkan and destroy the old growth mallee.
Cats -Purrkiyan and Foxes - Pakutha
Cats hunt many types of small- to medium-sized animals including woodland birds, mammals, reptiles and frogs. Sightings of feral cats (Felis catus) on the cultivation area paddock have raised concerns, especially for the Yungkan Mallee Fowl , the woodland birds and reptiles that live in the mallee and belah woodlands and neila shrublands but as yet no survey has been carried out. It is said that the species is very territorial by nature. This will be important in establishing the correct management strategy.
Foxes are voracious predators, feeding on small mammals, insects and wild fruits, but will also scavenge on dead animals. Foxes can have a very big impact on native mammals including rare and endangered species. Baiting programs in conjunction with NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service are assisting in controlling the number of European red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) on Mawonga.
Weed infestation - Exotic Weed Species
A vegetation survey of Mawonga in October 2013 found that around 12% of the plant species recorded was exotic in origin. It is highly likely that the number and abundance of introduced species will increase dramatically under more favourable climatic conditions, particularly after winter rainfall events. Not all introduced species are of concern, and some have more impact than others. Galvanised burr (Bassia birchii) (a native species), Paterson’s curse (Echium plantagineum) and caltrop (Tribulus terrestris) are the main observed weeds, and all occur and spread mostly in wetter years. Paterson’s curse is mostly associated with ground disturbance or heavily grazed areas such as around dams/tanks. Horehound (Marrubium vulgare) is a class 4 noxious weed known to occur at Mawonga, however this is only in low numbers in the more disturbed areas (tanks, homestead / shearers quarters). 30 In most instances, introduced plants require some form of disturbance or modification of the environment to become established, such as an increase in nutrients, mechanical disturbance or fire. Within Mawonga, most introduced plants were found associated with areas of intensive clearing and grazing and areas associated with high visitation of exotic fauna such as tanks and sheds. Exotic species more commonly occur along boundaries and tracks, but they are usually restricted to a short distance from the disturbed area. The movement of vehicles along tracks encourages the spread of weeds. This is particularly true if vehicles have to move through heavily infested areas prior to reaching the desired trails and if mud becomes attached.
Rabbits - Yurraapat
European rabbits or (Oryctolagus cuniculus) were once in plague proportions across Central – Western NSW. Numbers on Mawonga are reasonably sparse and are mainly found on the lowlands in areas of soft soil. Opportunistic shooting, fumigation and collapsing of burrows will be an ongoing management action, especially in areas where goat numbers are reduced.
Horses- Yarraaman, Dogs or Dingoes - Mirri or Yuki and Pigs - Pikipiki
One horse has been sighted which belonged to the previous lessee. This horse will be monitored and mustered (and contained) as the opportunity arises.
Dogs or Dingoes - Mirri or Yuki
At present there have been no sightings of wild dogs or dingos (Canis familiaris) at Mawonga, but it is known that they have been trapped in the area.
Pigs - Pikipiki
Shooting or trapping are the most appropriate methods to control feral pigs (Sus scorfa). Whilst the presence of pigs is relatively common on Mawonga, it is probably more reflective of numbers / density in the general surrounding landscape. Hunting dogs will not be used given the effectiveness of other methods