River Rangers follow in ancestors footsteps

PRODUCTION ADVICE & NRM NEWS - MAY 2022 - GENERAL

By Keisha Egan - Land Services Officer
P:  03 5881 9925  | M:  0459 3330 363  | E:  keisha.egan@lls.nsw.gov.au

The opportunity to be on Country and mentor other Indigenous people is a passion for River Rangers Project Coordinator, and Yorta Yorta Wamba Wamba man Luke Egan. Working with the National Parks and Wildlife Service for 10 years, before being given 12 months' leave to lead the Rangers program at Yarkuwa, Luke has a background in contemporary land management and conservation issues.

Luke said: “For some landholders, having the River Rangers working nearby can be the first time they’ve seen Aboriginal land management techniques in practice. But it’s an exciting opportunity for us, both because we can learn so much from each other, and because, really, we want the same things: to care for the land and preserve it for the next generation.”

The Deniliquin-based River Rangers program has seen the establishment of a team of Indigenous Rangers working to improve the Edward/Kolety Wakool river systems, wetlands, and Werai Reserve Ramsar site. Led by Luke, the Rangers, Liticia Ross, Tracy Hamilton, and Joseph Briggs, carry out plant surveys, water and biodiversity monitoring, fire management, pest plant and animal control. The Rangers each bring long term experience and expertise to the team and play a vital role in ensuring traditional knowledge and culture is practiced and maintained.

Liticia has over seven years of Land Management skills and a strong knowledge of the Local Wamba Wamba Perrpa Perrepa landscape. She also brings expertise in Indigenous arts and language.

Tracy has 20 years of experience with Yarkuwa, covering areas such as Project management, site monitoring, pest and weeds management, plant identification and water quality as well as construction works relating to burials and wetlands.

Joseph is experienced in land, pest and weed management, scientific surveys, site monitoring and wetland construction and has a keen interest in turtles.

Luke said: “The River Rangers program is about working together and using Indigenous knowledge to help preserve our Country and ecosystems. One of the things I enjoy most about this job is learning from science, and science learning from us. I do think there’s a shift in mindset happening, as more Indigenous knowledge is incorporated into land management practices. Indigenous people have a different insight, based on what our elders have taught us, and our knowledge has developed over tens of thousands of years of living on this land. But our goal is the same, caring for the land for our children and their children.”

One of the most exciting parts of Luke’s River Rangers role is his involvement with the Aboriginal Traineeships, delivered in partnership with Murray Local Land Services, Deniliquin High School, Yarkuwa, Sarina Russo and the National Parks and Wildlife Service. The pilot program will see three Deniliquin High School Year 11 students of Aboriginal background working alongside the Rangers and earning a formal qualification as they learn to manage, protect, and sustain the local environment.

“The River Rangers, and the Traineeship, can help make a real difference for local Indigenous people. There are so many advantages, and they range from improved physical and mental health from being active on Country to financial benefits from increased income and stable employment. But one of the major benefits that you can’t underestimate is pride. The other Rangers, our Trainees and myself, all take great pride in the fact that we are caring for our Country, and following in the footsteps of our ancestors.”

Luke said The River Rangers would love to hear from, and work alongside, local landholders to make real differences in the local area.

“We’re out here, we have a lot of knowledge and experience and we’re willing to have a go. Given the opportunity we can all work together to help preserve and improve our land and rivers for the future.”

To find out more about the River Rangers Program contact Yarkuwa on (03) 5881 3312 or email admin@yarkuwa.org.au

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