Cape York Biodiversity and Indigenous Knowledge October 2012

Morelia viridis by complicado
Morelia viridis, a photo by complicado on Flickr.

This year I have had been fortunate to have once again the opportunity to work with KULLA land trust, this time on a series of expeditions with the aim of scoping potential for walking tracks in the remote McIlwraith Ranges. The expeditions build on previous collaborations with the twin goals of biodiversity survey and Traditional Knowledge exchange. In September and October I joined Traditional Owners from the Umpila language group, based from Coen and Lockhart, on two expeditions into their Traditional Lands. The first to the Rocky River, north of Silver Plains, and the second to the Leo Creek mine, in the middle of the McIlwraith Uplands, Northeast of Coen. Both expeditions encountered a stunning array of wildlife, including a number of endemic and threatened species, set against the spectacular landscapes of Cape York. Birding highlights included Eclectus Parrot, Palm Cockatoo, Magnificent Rifle Bird, Red-cheeked Parrot, White-faced Robin, Tropical Scrubwren, other species included Green python, Cape York Green-eyed Tree Frog, Long-nosed Tree Frog, Common Spotted Cuscus…

Both expeditions also encountered frequent sign of Southern Cassowaries, an iconic species believed to have recently declined on the Cape. The expeditions were also enriched by the traditional ecological knowledge of the indigenous participants. It is my hope to be able to build further on these efforts, with future trips planned that will further enhance capacity in these communities for biodiversity monitoring, ecotourism, and conservation land management. Future Expeditions will also include the opportunity for guests to join in. If you have an interest in Cape York Wildlife, and would like an opportunity to experience these remote and hard-to-access landscapes in the company of their traditional owners, with a chance to help in important biodiversity and conservation research, please contact me.

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