Bardi Jawi Rangers travel overseas to share dugong tagging expertise
The KLC Bardi Jawi Rangers travelled to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in April to share their expertise in dugong tagging techniques with rangers in Abu Dhabi.
The 11-day knowledge-exchange was organised by Charles Darwin University, the KLC and the Abu Dhabi Environment Agency Department.
Bardi Jawi head ranger Philip ‘Bibido’ McCarthy said the experience was unique and he was proud that his ranger group, from One Arm Point, had been recognised for its expertise in dugong tagging and research.
“It was just an amazing experience for us to come from a remote little area in the Kimberley and to go assist and train these people in this quite big, different area, with a totally different culture, in the Persian Gulf,’’ he said.
“We never thought that we’d have the opportunity to tag somewhere else since the ranger program started, so it was quite an eye opener and an amazing trip.
Mr McCarthy said the Bardi Jawi Rangers were singled out for their expertise in the field, to assist local Abu Dhabi rangers to capture dugong and tag them with satellite trackers. The local rangers can now use the technology to better understand the migration patterns of these animals as well as the distances they travel.
“We caught three dugong ourselves, and successfully trained a local ranger who caught and tagged a dugong himself on the last day. The trip was a great success, not only for us but for them as well,” he said.
Bardi Jawi Ranger Dwayne George said as the Emirates Rangers had never before used tagging devices, part of the trip was to teach them about the technology and how to use it.
Mr George, who is highly-skilled in capturing dugong in a safe way that limits impacts on the animal, said he uses a spotter plane to help him locate the endangered species.
“Once you have located the dugong, you follow it for a while to tire it out and then you jump on the tail, but you’ve got to hold it tight and grip it, because the dugong will try to take you under and fight you,’’ he said.
“You have to keep hold of the tail until it gets tired and then you can clip on the harness. Then you pull it alongside the boat with the harness and put a pool noodle underneath its pectoral fins to help it keep upright and breathing, and then you can put the tag on.
But it’s a good feeling when you successfully tag a dugong. And it’s fun. It’s one of the things rangers love to do.”
The Bardi Jawi Rangers have been tagging dugong in waters around Bardi Jawi Country since 2006, as part of a program with Dr Richard Campbell and Dave Holly from Edith Cowan University, the Western Australian Department of Environment and Conservation and the Kimberley Land Council.
Media Release – May 30, 2012
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