NORFORCE: Aboriginal skills and border patrolling

Reuters photographer David Gray spent time on patrol

with Australia's North West Mobile Force, known as NORFORCE, a

surveillance unit that employs ancient Aboriginal skills to help in the

seemingly impossible task of patrolling the country's vast northwest


 Border security has become a contentious issue ahead of an

Australian general election due this year. NORFORCE's area of operations

is about 1.8 million square km (700,000 square miles), almost as big as

Mexico. It covers the Northern Territory and the north of Western

Australia, home to some of the planet's most dangerous wildlife.

Aboriginal reservists make up a large proportion of the 600-strong

NORFORCE, and bring their knowledge of the land and the food it can

provide, handed down through the generations over 40,000 years or more.

Fish, shellfish, turtle eggs and even insects supplement rations during

the patrol, which is on the lookout for illegal foreign fishing vessels

and drug smugglers, as well as people smugglers from neighboring


What to Read Next