Thursday, April 25, 2024

Kowanyama rangers go electric for coast patrols

Kowanyama Aboriginal Shire Council has purchased four electric motorbikes for its team of Kowanyama Land & Sea Rangers.

Funded through the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry’s Top Watch program, the electric motorbikes are set to transform the Rangers’ coastal operations, Council said in a statement.

Safeguarding the 50 kilometres of Gulf frontage that surrounds Kowanyama, Council says the rangers will utilise the motorbikes for beach and foreshore inspections, targeting ghost nets, marine debris, turtle nesting sites, and addressing illegal activities.

“We’re in the testing phase now, but our vision is clear. Loading our barge with the four electric motorbikes and deploying our survey team on another vessel, we’ll patrol the coastline with precision,” said Senior Ranger, Darby Horace.

“Two Rangers will head north, and two will head south, conducting thorough inspections before regrouping at designated points. This promises to be an efficient way to manage our coastal patrols.”

The bikes, supplied by the New Zealand-based company UBCO, are engineered for rugged utility applications. With a capacity to carry 150kg with cargo racks mounted at the front and back, they allow the rangers to transport equipment and collected debris with ease. They also featuring a 60-120km range and a top speed of 50km/h depending on conditions.

Acting Senior Ranger Brayden Collins says, “These electric motorbikes have exceeded our expectations. Navigating sandy stretches requires effort, but the two-wheel drive system is nothing short of incredible.”

For Kowanyama, sustainability is a guiding principle, the Council says. While capability, safety, and maintenance were paramount in the selection process, the environmental impact reduction offered by UBCO electric motorbikes is a welcomed bonus.

“Diesel and petrol motors have their place, but we recognize their carbon footprint. Exploring electric vehicles aligns with our vision of a cleaner, greener future,” said CEO, Kevin Bell.

Brian Wilson, head of UBCO operations in Australia, personally delivered the electric motorbikes to Kowanyama. The Rangers received training in routine maintenance and component replacement, ensuring self-sufficiency in keeping their bikes in top condition.

“I’m thrilled to see the electric motorbikes being put to such important work, and to meet the Ranger team who would keep the bikes running for years to come,” said Mr Wilson.

The electric motorbikes bring an unexpected advantage – their stealthy, quiet operation. This attribute greatly aids wildlife patrols compared to traditional Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) options, he said.

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