Department of Parks and Wildlife staff and Wunggurr traditional owners are winning the battle against the invasive weed taro at Mount Hart in King Leopold Ranges Conservation Park.
West Kimberley district operations officer Dr Karen Bettink said introduced taro (Colocasia esculenta var. aquatilis) - also known as elephant ears - had been choking parts of the Barker River near the Mount Hart Homestead, preventing native species from flourishing.
“We have been working since 2008 with the local Wunggurr rangers to eradicate taro at the homestead and along a heavily-infested 8km section of river,” Dr Bettink said.
“With funding from the State Government’s Kimberley Science and Conservation Strategy, trials were conducted to determine the best control method, and with adaptive management, significant inroads have been made into controlling this problem weed in recent years.
“A combination of manual removal and careful application of herbicide, including wiping, to limit environmental impacts has been effective in reducing the cover and distribution of taro.
“Together with cattle reduction and the natural regeneration of native vegetation, we’ve seen the local habitat improve considerably.”
Taro was originally planted at the Mount Hart Homestead in 1980.
It is now considered a pest weed as it dominates native riparian vegetation, chokes river systems, pollutes water by trapping organic matter in its roots, and produces a smelly sediment.
Dr Bettink said a significant broader benefit of the weed control at Mount Hart would be preventing taro from entering the larger Lennard River and its vast catchment.
“This includes river tributaries that go all the way to the coast and inland to Windjana Gorge National Park,” she said.
Media contact: Parks and Wildlife Media 9219 9999
Facebook / Twitter / Instagram: @waparkswildlife