Aboriginal teenagers carry on ‘critical’ conservation work at Monarto Safari Park
Three more graduates have completed Zoos SA's Aboriginal Learning on Country program.
For thousands of years, Aboriginal people have looked after the Murraylands and the animals and plants that live here.
To this day, that work is continuing at Monarto Safari Park.
Nicolas Sumner, Tyreece O’Loughlin and Jeremy Koolmatrie became the latest graduates of the park’s Aboriginal Learning on Country program last Thursday.
Each was awarded a Certificate III in Conservation and Land Management for the work they do to protect barking geckos, pygmy possums, woodland birds, Monarto mintbush and other native species on the park’s grounds.
Members of the ALOC team also manage feral animals there and at Aroona Sanctuary, in the outback near Leigh Creek; monitor native turtles along the River Murray; and help with the conservation of non-local native species such as the pygmy blue-tongue lizard and Mallee emu-wren.
All three of the recent graduates are also students at Murray Bridge High School’s Independent Learning Centre.
Senior Indigenous conservation officer Leon “Scornzy” Dodd congratulated them on their achievement.
“It has been a pleasure working with them and I’m proud as,” he said.
“They have taught me so much as well as me teaching them.
“There has been challenges this year with COVID, but the outcome is still the same: we want them to get the best out of their training, get their certificate, progress and have bright futures.”
Zoos SA chief executive Elaine Bensted said the ALOC program was critical to the conservation work carried out at Monarto.
Twenty-six trainees have gone through the program since 2010, with help from sponsors Santos, Landscape SA and the national Landcare program.
Volunteers keep the rabbits out
Meanwhile, volunteers have put the finishing touches on 10 kilometres of feral-proof fencing around the safari park’s new Wild Africa precinct, which is due to open in 2022.
Retired police officers Janet Lowe and Jackie Roads and Murray Bridge local Anne Barnett smashed a bottle over a fence-post to mark the completion of the project.
“When we started this project, I doubt any of us realised what a mammoth task we had ahead of us, but we’re three determined women,” Ms Barnett said.
Together with another volunteer, Katie Arch, and with support from Zoos SA staff, the women spent ages “digging out, rolling out wire, shovelling dirt back and starting what was sometimes a compressor with a mind of its own”.
A luxury hotel and glamping-style accommodation will be the cornerstones of the 560-hectare Wild Africa project, which is expected to bring an extra 55,000 people per year to Monarto once COVID-related travel restrictions are lifted.
Volunteer at Monarto Safari Park: www.zoossa.com.au.
You can help keep local stories like this one free for everyone to read. Subscribe to Murray Bridge News today and support your independent, locally owned news service, plus get access to exclusive stories you won’t find anywhere else, from just $5 a month.