Slow And Steady Wins The Race With Trial Release Of Western Swamp Tortoise

Slow And Steady Wins The Race With Trial Release Of Western Swamp Tortoise

Western Australia Minister for Environment Stephen Dawson

Western Swamp Tortoise Trial Release To Provide Crucial Data

Victor P Taffa

  • 12 western swamp tortoises released in Ellen Brook Nature Reserve
  • Tortoises fitted with data loggers to record behavioural information for researchers

Western swamp tortoises have been released into the wild today with special data loggers attached that will help guide recovery efforts for the critically endangered species.

“State Government has worked very hard since the 1980’s to stabilise and increase the tiny wild populations of western swamp tortoises, through frequent releases of captive-bred animals and rigorous scientific research such as this important trial.” Minister for Environment Stephen Dawson said.

“Population of western swamp tortoises in the Ellen Brook Nature Reserve has recently benefited from a new 5.2 ha fox-proof fenced area, funded by WWF Australia.”

12 Perth Zoo-bred tortoises were released into Ellen Brook Nature Reserve in Perth’s north-eastern suburbs.

Data loggers attached to the tortoises will record information about how long they spend in water, the depth of the water they forage in, and the summer-time conditions they experience when they aestivate under leaf litter and in holes during summer. After 12 months, the tortoises will be returned to Perth Zoo.

“Ellen Brook Nature Reserve continues to be a very important piece of remnant bushland in Perth’s north, in that it harbours a self-sustaining population of western swamp tortoises and provides critical habitat for the species.” Swan Hills MLA Jessica Shaw said.

“I am proud of the enduring and strong support for the protection of this iconic species from the local community, particularly the Friends of the Western Swamp Tortoise community group which has been instrumental in improving its survival prospects.”

Trial will enable researchers to compare tortoises of similar age, genetics and history to tortoises being released at Meerup in the South-West, and will help guide decisions about possible future translocations of tortoises to other sites.

Project is being co-ordinated by Parks and Wildlife Service staff and scientists from the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, Perth Zoo and The University of Western Australia in partnership with Threatened Species Recovery Hub and the Friends of the Western Swamp Tortoise group.

It is estimated that there are up to 150 western swamp tortoises in existence, including about 50 adult wild tortoises.

 

Abbreviations:

WWF              World Wildlife Fund