eNewsletter | 6
Greetings from all the staff at Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.
Message from the Board Chairman
The latter part of 2011 was busy out here in the stunning Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. On 25 October we marked the 26th anniversary of the handback of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park to its Anangu traditional owners. The park celebrated with a range of cultural activities at the Cultural Centre and a barbecue with community members and park staff.
Work continues to ensure the sustainable future of tourism in the park for the next 25 years. We have been steadily working through our Tourism Directions: Stage 1 plan which includes tourism workshops with Anangu and inspiring field trips to other tourism operations for Board members. We still have a lot of work to do and it is an exciting time for the park and Nguraritja.
The last few months have also been particularly busy for our natural and cultural resources team. They've been out and about doing multiple research surveys on mala, mulgara and ants. See the articles below for more information on their work.
In October, park staff and contractors completed the installation of the last of Uluru's new signs. The project has been a fantastic effort by the park staff and Anangu to ensure that visitors receive information about Anangu culture, plants and animals around Uluru and Kata Tjuta.
Chair, Board of Management
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park was well prepared and dealt with any bushfires that occurred over the summer. All burn plans for 2012 have been written and approved and will include much larger burns than previous years as the spinifex has reached an age where it will burn. The first week of burning is scheduled for late April.
The management of invasive buffel grass is a key area for our rangers. In the past, the park has managed buffel grass by removing it by hand but our rangers are hard at work looking at alternative solutions. The park is trialing four different burning and herbicide combinations and if successful these will be developed into a longer-term buffel management plan.
Women's cultural work - bush medicine
An important role of our Workforce Development Officer and Natural and Cultural Resources Rangers is to go out on country with Anangu women minyma (women) and kungkas (girls). Park staff and Anangu are currently working on developing oral histories of Anangu knowledge and use of bush medicines.
Junior rangers program
This term, the Yulara Junior Rangers have been learning about collective environmental action and how they can take responsibility to minimise negative impacts within the park. The children have explored a variety of impacts that park visitors have on native animals and the threats that feral animals and weeds pose. They are producing documentaries to educate others about these issues and what the park rangers are doing to manage them.
Jervis Bay school kids travelled to Uluru as part of a ‘Black Rock to Red Rock’ school trip, meeting up with our junior rangers to take part in a dot painting workshop and other activities.
The mala population of the park has exceeded our expectations - we now have an estimated population of over 200! The annual mala survey was conducted in September 2011 where we caught 30 males and 40 females. We were delighted to see 23 of the females had young in their pouches! This year we caught and tagged 23 new mala and the rest were animals caught in previous surveys. In 2010 we estimated the population to be around 108 so it is clear the hard work of rangers and traditional owners in caring for the mala is paying off.
Ants are the most abundant invertebrates in the park yet we know very little about them. So we were very excited in September 2011 to begin our very first ant survey! Surveys were undertaken across 25 sites in the park using mini-pitfall traps. The results will assist in filling a critical knowledge gap about the park's biodiversity. Looking closely at ants helps us detect invasive species and understand the importance of ants to ecosystem health.
Mulgara surveys were undertaken in October 2011. It was the final survey in a two year monitoring program to determine habitat preferences for mulgara. Park rangers will assess the results of the surveys to plan how to reduce threats to the species.
Sign project update
Our new signs are in the ground! New interpretative signs are now throughout the park at all our main visitor areas. We have also installed new plant identification signs, visitor safety signs and maps at key locations around the park.
Knowledge for Tour Guides
Visitors to Uluru are now receiving consistently high quality information with guides now having completed the Knowledge for Tour Guides course. Many of our tour guides have already received an ID card from the park, proving that they have completed the course. If you'd like one of our ID cards, please make sure you have submitted your Statement of Attainment to the park.
The park has developed an Accredited Tour Guide Network for those tours guides that have completed the Knowledge for Tour Guides course. We will be sending through regular newsletters and information about the park that tour guides can use to enhance their tours. We are looking at developing accredited guide workshops so that tour guides can learn even more about the park.