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    09001a: Urgent recovery of western swamp tortoise

    The western swamp tortoise is one of Australia's most endangered reptiles. In addition to habitat destruction and predation, they are also threatened by summer wildfires that kill adult tortoises during aestivation. Courtesy Dr Gerald Kuchling, Department of Environment and Conservation
    The western swamp tortoise is one of Australia's most endangered reptiles. In addition to habitat destruction and predation, they are also threatened by summer wildfires that kill adult tortoises during aestivation. Courtesy Dr Gerald Kuchling, Department of Environment and Conservation

    The western swamp tortoise (WST) is the most endangered tortoise in the world. The natural habitat of the tortoise has contracted to just two swamps in the Swan Valley near Perth. Pressures on their survival include habitat destruction, predation from introduced species and reduced rainfall.

    This project aimed to:

    • create at least three wild naturally recruiting populations
    • increase the total number of mature individuals in the wild to more than 50
    • translocate some individuals to a fourth site.

    Funding was for one year of activity towards the overall objective of the WST Recovery Plan, 4th edition-to decrease the chance of extinction of the western swamp tortoise.

    Investment: $ 250 000
    Delivery organisation: Department of Environment and Conservation
    Project duration: September 2009 - June 2010
    Location: Swan and Northern Agricultural NRM regions

    Major project achievements

    • Thirty captive-bred tortoises successfully translocated to Moore River Nature Reserve, creating a fourth wild population.
    • Artificial aestivation tunnels installed at Moore River and Mogumber nature reserves to improve the resilience of translocated populations to wildfires.
    • Bore upgraded at Twin Swamps Nature Reserve to drought-proof the site of an existing tortoise population.
    • Egg predation mitigated by translocating 103 quenda (bandicoots) from existing tortoise habitat at Ellen Brook and Twin Swamps nature reserves.
    • Works at Mogumber Nature Reserve improved drought resilience and created new habitat for existing and translocated populations.
    • Captive breeding population maintained at Perth Zoo.

    Project partners

    Perth Zoo; Chittering Landcare Centre; Friends of the Western Swamp Tortoise

    More information

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