Weemol springs back to life
Weemol spring has become a living symbol of the many benefits that come from removing feral animals from country.
The spring has special significance to the Dalabon-speaking traditional owners - it has been an important water source to people of the area for millennia and offers the community welcome relief from punishing heat in the hotter months.
As humans rely on the spring, so do animals, and there have been growing concern over feral animals causing significant damage to the spring and the surrounding vegetation.
Ranger coordinator Julia Salt said areas with water often have the most damage from feral animals, as they gather there to drink.
“Buffalo, donkeys and horses were congregating around water and churning up the banks,” Ms Salt said.
“The wetland area was reduced to bare earth and mud and we were seeing a major loss of plants and the native birds and animals that depend on the spring, so there was an overall loss of biodiversity.
“They were also making the water dirty and unsafe for people to swim in or drink.
“We needed to find a way to stop feral animals altogether and so land owners decided to put up a fence.”
In July 2018, Mimal Rangers built a 1.3 kilometre fence to protect about 10 hectares around the spring.
Ms Salt said within a few months the rangers saw a rapid return of native vegetation and animals.
“We were actually quite shocked at the huge difference we saw after such a short amount of time,” Ms Salt said.
“It really shows how country can benefit from reducing the numbers or eradicating feral animals altogether.”
Ranger Tarlisha Redford said the women rangers have been monitoring the change through surveys, installing motion-sensor cameras and testing water quality.
“We see more birds, also water goanna and freshwater crocodile,” Ms Redford said.
“We drink the water from the spring so we are also testing it to see if it is getting healthier.”
The project has also involved children from the local school who worked with the women rangers to clear the spring from rubbish and weeds.
“We’ve made the area cleaner and safer and created a better swimming area,” Ms Redford said.
“We’ve installed bins and signs and we ask everyone to keep the area clean from rubbish and to respect this special place.
“Everyone is happy that we have made good change.”
“It’s really been a great success,” Julia adds.
“To have three generations of local kids, rangers and elders working on a project that is making positive change is special.
“It’s change that everyone can see not only through the monitoring, but with their own eyes.”