Swamp Tortoises Live To Fight Another Day

Swamp Tortoises Live To Fight Another Day

Western Australia Minister for Environment Bill Marmion

Australia’s Most Endangered Reptile Released Near Bullsbrook

Victor P Taffa

Environment Minister Bill Marmion has helped release 30 critically endangered western swamp tortoises into habitat within the Twin Swamps Nature Reserve near Bullsbrook.

The western swamp tortoise is one of the rarest tortoises in the world and Australia’s most endangered reptile, inhabiting only a very small area on the edge of Perth.

“The 30 tortoises released today are still quite young at only two to four years of age, and are also relatively small, only measuring 80-90mm and weighing 100-180g.” Mr. Marmion said.

“The species takes eight to 15 years to mature and generally only produces one clutch of eggs a year, but in suitable conditions it can have a long life and even lay eggs past the age of 60.”

 

“As its name suggests, the western swamp tortoise occurs naturally in seasonal, clay-based swamps which provide water and food in winter and spring.”

“To help improve the species’ chances of survival, the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) has carried out significant habitat modifications at Twin Swamps, including groundwater supplementation to deal with the drying climate.”

“Even though we’ve brought the species back from the brink of extinction, it still faces major challenges, including reduced natural habitat, low rainfall and predation by foxes, feral cats, dogs, rats and ravens.”

The Minister said that since 1994, more than 500 animals had been bred at Perth Zoo for release into habitat managed by DEC as part of the Western Swamp Tortoise Recovery Program.

The program is co-ordinated by DEC, in partnership with Perth Zoo, the Federal Government, Perth Region Natural Resource Management, World Wide Fund for Nature, the Friends of the Western Swamp Tortoise and The University of Western Australia.