Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Community project helps endangered turtles

Dozens of clutches of White throated snapping turtle eggs were protected in the Bundaberg region last year thanks to a community-led project.

Federal Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt congratulated WYLD Projects which undertook the project in 2020, after receiving $16,750 in funding from the Communities Environment Program.

“We have a number of community groups in Hinkler that do a wonderful job in caring for our environment and through the Communities Environment Program, WYLD Projects has undertaken turtle nest protection for the White-throated snapping turtle,” Mr Pitt said.

“The project involved the installation of three nest protection cages, as well as predator/cattle exclusion fencing. Nesting activities were monitored with over 60 clutches of eggs relocated to the nest protection cages.”

The critically endangered White-throated snapping turtles (Elseya albagula) lay only one clutch of eggs per year and are over 20 years old before they begin to lay. The 2021 laying season has begun and runs until June.

WYLD Projects project founder Brad Crosbie said the combination of the nest protection cages, installation of the exclusion fencing to keep predators such as foxes, Water Rats, wild dogs, goannas, and targeted baiting, protected all of the clutches.

“This project is an important step forward in learning more about the White throated snapping turtle and especially the juvenile hatchlings, which have very low survival rates,” Mr Crosbie said.

“Every turtle that makes it back into the eco-system is a success, and this project has provided the opportunity to study juveniles,” he said.

“During the project, WYLD worked with the Queensland Turtle Conservation Project of Threatened Species Operation, Department of Environment and Science, as well as the Bundaberg Regional Council, SunWater and senior Taribelang Bunda Elders.

“As well as the research activities, we had one worker authorised to take part in nest protection activities and another has started their training to be able to carry out this work.

“Being able to take Indigenous youth with us on this program provides opportunities for us all to increases our knowledge on the species, while also connecting to country and gaining skills in fencing, installation of nest protection cages, and discussing visual assessments on flora and fauna that aligns with Indigenous seasonal calendars, has all  been a positive aspect,” Mr Crosbie said.

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