Passion to protect region’s rarest species drives new docuseries Rewilding the West

Kellie BalaamAlbany Advertiser
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A Gilbert's potoroo.
Camera IconA Gilbert's potoroo. Credit: Riggs Australia

Some of the region’s rarest animals will come to life on screen in a new documentary series that aims to raise awareness around environmental work helping to save precious species.

Esperance-based filmmaker Jennene Riggs has spent the past three years creating web series Rewilding the West which features actor and conservation volunteer George Shevtsov on a quest around WA helping to save some of the world’s rarest animals.

Riggs has captured Mr Shevtsov on a journey of discovery volunteering his time working with Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions scientists who are striving to save endangered wildlife from extinction.

Part of Mr Shevtsov’s adventure took him to the Great Southern where Riggs filmed the capture and release of the Gilbert’s potoroo and noisy scrub bird.

Other species featured include the dibbler, western ground parrot, rufous hare-wallaby and banded-hare wallaby.

Noisy scrub bird.
Camera IconNoisy scrub bird. Credit: Riggs Australia

Riggs said she hoped to have the series complete by 2022 with the public able to view the eight episodes free on the Riggs Australia YouTube channel and Facebook page.

“As with all the films I make, I want to showcase how precious our native animals are and raise awareness of the amazing work that’s being done around our State to save endangered species, and to inspire others to get involved by volunteering their own time, or supporting the groups doing this work,” she said.

Rewilding the West will put a spotlight on Two Peoples Bay.

“The series will feature a few locations around Albany such as Bald Island, Two Peoples Bay and Mount Manypeaks and tell the remarkable story of the rediscovery of the noisy scrub bird and the Gilbert’s potoroo, both of which were thought to be extinct until they were rediscovered at Two Peoples Bay,” she said.

Filmmaker Jennene Riggs.
Camera IconFilmmaker Jennene Riggs. Credit: Riggs Australia

Riggs has captured special footage of the Gilbert’s potoroo — once thought to be extinct until its rediscovery in 2015 — being caught on Bald Island in and released onto Middle Island in the Recherche Archipelago.

Several noisy scrub birds were filmed as they were captured on Bald Island then released onto Mondrain Island also in the Recherche Archipelago off the south coast.

With more than 20 years of experience filming and producing documentaries, Riggs has mostly taken on the project solo.

“Sometimes my husband Dave comes along for a day to get the drone footage, I’ve been making natural history docos for many years so I know how to capture these sorts of field trips by myself,” she said.

“You have to be very organised, and it’s pretty hard work at times, lugging all the camera gear around and camping in pretty rough conditions, but I don’t mind — you appreciate the creature comforts when you get home.”

George Shevtsov, Jennene Riggs and Tony Friend at Middle Island.
Camera IconGeorge Shevtsov, Jennene Riggs and Tony Friend at Middle Island. Credit: Riggs Australia

One wildlife memory stuck with Riggs.

“Camping out on Bald Island with the booming calls of the nesting shearwaters so loud that you have to wear earplugs to get any sleep, is something I’ll never forget,” she said.

With filming almost complete Riggs is looking for more support to get the series off the ground.

Through crowd funding, Riggs has so far raised more than $1200 out of the $10,000 she hopes to receive for help with editing and post-production.

Visit www.riggsaustralia.com.

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