Map of Northern Territory showing Malak Malak region.Malak Malak Indigenous rangers and Traditional Owners have a unique understanding of sawfish habitats in the Daly River region, and have helped scientists to locate important floodplain areas that act as nursery areas for young sawfish. In September 2012, as Top End floodplains were drying, the rangers raised the alert when Largetooth Sawfish (Pristis pristis) were stranded in a shallow waterhole near the Daly River. The team of researchers, rangers and Traditional Owners subsequently netted nine sawfish and two barramundi, and returned them to the river. Two weeks later the waterhole was dry. Largetooth Sawfish are born at the river mouth then move upstream, often spreading out into floodplain billabongs, but sometimes they can pick the wrong one. While the floodplains can be productive, fish can perish if the billabongs dry out before the following wet season, due to late rains or a hot, dry season.

Images: Amos Shields, Malak Malak Ranger Group


Peter Kyne
(08) 8946 7616