Many of the different plants and animal species within the Djelk region have special cultural significance as totems or species in which djang/wangarr resides, and we use many species for bush tucker, medicine, and for making tools and art. Each clan has detailed knowledge of the ‘seasonal calendar’ within their estate, which indicates when species can and cannot be harvested.
Harvesting wild species helps to keep our culture and knowledge of country strong, and it contributes to our livelihoods. To make their internationally prized contemporary art, artists of Maningrida Arts & Culture and Bábbarra Designs harvest a variety of plants from their clan estates, including bark for paintings, wood for carvings, leaves and bark fibre for weaving and roots and bulbs for colour pigment.
Landowners have recently observed many changes in the types of plants and animals present on country and their distribution and abundance. Biodiversity surveys undertaken within the Djelk region show a widespread decline in small mammals and other native animals – a similar pattern to that described in many parts of northern Australia. Landowners are very worried that important species will continue to disappear and that they will become too hard to find and unhealthy for people to eat.
Our goal for our culturally important plants and animals is that our children can see, have knowledge of and use culturally important plant and animal species.
The main threats to our culturally important plants and animals are:
- Loss of knowledge
- Unhealthy fire
- Empty country
- Climate change
- Problem animals
Together with landowners and djungkay, we check how effective our threat mitigation activities are by measuring the:
- Size of healthy populations of key species
- Impact of fires
- Availability of the animals and plants that people need for their livelihoods