After months of searching, the yinlinkirrkkirr was found on Stone Country in Arnhem Land in a collaborative effort between scientists and Indigenous rangers.

Territory Natural Resource Management have been working with Jawoyn rangers, Djurrubu rangers, and Kakadu National Park to find the yirlinkirrkkirr in sandstone heath shrubland in Arnhem Land.

But it was on Stone Country with the Warddeken Bininj and Daluk Rangers the call of the yirlinkirrkkirr was heard.

Listed as a vulnerable species the yinlinkirrkkirr, or the white-throated grasswren, is on the federal government’s priority list of 20 Australian birds it aims to prevent from extinction.

The yinlinkirrkkirr is a distinctive species with a stark white throat which contrasts with its chestnut and black colouring.

The species does not fly often but instead runs and hops across the rocky terrain. It is only found in Arnhem Land.

Staff and Warddeken rangers looking for white-throated grasswren. Photo: Kelly Dixon, Territory Natural Resource Management.

Territory Natural Resource Management ecologist Dr Kelly Dixon said the vulnerability of the species has been because of bad fire management.

“In the last five to ten years, there has been a lot better fire management going on, collectively across the Stone Country,” she said.

“But it is really worrying especially when going to sites where they had been reliably found all the time and not detecting there anymore because a fire has gone through.

“Some other species might be able to fly away…this species if the vegetation is completely gone from a fire, they may not be able to come back to that site especially if there’s no other longer unburnt patches nearby.”

Djinkarr Traditional Owner, senior ranger, Indigenous fire ecologist and Warddeken chair Dean Yibarbuk said the yinlinkirrkkirr is of great importance to Indigenous history.

“We believe these animals or birds that today they exist, they were human before us,” he said.

“Those animals, or birds, became human they change through their lifetime but we don’t know this is a story that we’ve been told.

“So this is a very very important that we save it in our regions and now we need to look after it by doing all sorts of management.”

Ecologist for Warddeken Land Management Doctor Kara Penton said finding the yinlinkirrkkirr was not without significant knowledge from Traditional Owners.

“I consulted many senior Traditional Owners who were interested in having this survey on Country,” she said.

“We had a senior Traditional Owner in the helicopter flying over the general area that we were interested in and based on their knowledge of what habitat the white-throated grass wren prefers in the sandstone heath, they selected the exact location.

“This is so important to have informed consent, to have these places, surveys led by Bininj people but also really building on where they know the white-throated grass wren lives and the habitat that it does prefer.”

Ms Dixon said now the yinlinkirrkkirr has been found on Stone Country, they will continue to work with more Indigenous rangers in Arnhem Land to search for yinlinkirrkkirr in other ranges.