It has the birds and animals of arid Australia and that makes it a special place.
Mutawintji Board Member
The Lands contain a selection of native vegetation communities, plants and animals that have sustained Wiimpatja for generations. They are typical of the plants and animals found across the semi-arid and arid western parts of NSW. However the Lands also hold several vegetation communities, plants and animals of special cultural and conservation significance. The Priorities Action Statement (PAS) currently guides the management of threatened species in NSW.
The Wangarru, or yellow-footed rock-wallaby (Petrogale xanthopus) is a particularly culturally important animal. Plants such as the quandong (Sanatalum acuminatum), wild lime trees (Citrus glauca) and Barrier Range wattle (Acacia beckleri) are considered very important by Wiimpatja.
The principal vegetation communities occurring on the Lands – in order of their occurrence across the Lands are:
- Mulga Shrublands – the largest and most widespread community on the Lands occurring on the rugged terrain of the Byngnano, Gap and Coturaundee Ranges and the elevated rocky country of Amphitheatre Creek in the north- east;
- Chenopod (Saltbush/Bluebush) Shrublands – mainly found in the rolling stony downs terrain of the Yurntaana (Mt Wright) area across the central section of the Lands;
- Arid Woodlands – mainly occurring in a large band along the eastern edge of the Byngnano Range and scattered elsewhere across the Lands in smaller patches;
- Woody Shrublands – chiefly found across the sand plains and low rises along the Lands’ western margin, and sandier lower drainage line areas; and
- River Red Gum Riparian Woodlands – occurring in corridors along the major drainage lines and floodouts, with rocky gorge and sandplain creekline sub- groups throughout the Lands.
The Lands support a range of native animal species representative of the semi-arid and arid regions of western NSW.
Its importance for native animals is enhanced by the reliability of its water supplies, in contrast with surrounding drier sandplains. These serve as important drought refuges for larger terrestrial wildlife as well as resident and migratory waterbirds.
More than 150 species of birds are found on the Lands. A total of 49 varieties of reptiles (38 lizards and 11 snake species) have been recorded from two surveys, and as recorded in the NPWS and Australian Museum fauna databases. Species recorded are very comparable to the suite of reptiles known from other arid zone national parks across western NSW. Five species of frogs occur on the Lands, including the water holding frog (Cyclorana platycephala).
Almost half the Lands’ 17 recorded mammal species are bats (eight species) as well as five kangaroos/wallabies, the echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus) and three smaller nocturnal mammal species.
Species diversity and densities are greatest around waterholes and drainage lines, cliffs and scree/boulder fields, rocky overhangs and caves and woodland areas. Native fauna populations have been adversely impacted by changes to the Lands’ vegetation communities due to past land uses, predation by introduced animals and the continuing grazing pressures exerted by goats and rabbits.
Threatened animal species recorded on the Lands since 1980
|Yellow-footed rock-wallaby/ Wangarru
|Little pied bat
|Yellow-tailed plain slider
|Interior Blind Snake
E= Endangered, V= Vulnerable, EP = Endangered Population
Source: DEC Atlas of NSW Wildlife, 2007 and local observations/records, DEH, 2008
Wangarru – the yellow-footed rock-wallaby
Wangarru is of great cultural importance for Wiimpatja. In acknowledgement of this significance and the species’ close associations with the Mutawintji Lands, the species was chosen by the MLALC for inclusion as a prominent part of the Lands’ logo.
In scientific and conservation terms the Lands harbour the only known wild population of this endangered species in New South Wales – one sub-population in the outlying Coturaundee Range and another in the Gap Range in the Lands’ far north-east. The original gazettal of the Coturaundee Nature Reserve was specifically to protect the Wangarru colonies at this site.
The colonies typically occupy cliffs, rocky slopes and rockfalls on or adjacent to this range country with these features providing their refuge and shelter. Population
numbers have been closely monitored since 1980 and active conservation measures implemented (notably fox and goat control). After an initial expansion in size, these colonies were adversely affected by persistently dry conditions, particularly between 2001 and 2009. By the end of this period the total population estimate dropped to less than 200 individuals.