Slow but sure progress to tortoise milestone

July 14, 2014 by David Stacey
Slow but sure progress to tortoise milestone

One of the world's rarest tortoises and Australia's most endangered reptile, the tiny Western Swamp Tortoise, has been brought back from the brink of extinction by some passionate conservationists including a team from The University of Western Australia.

And they're all celebrating decades of hard work as this week the 500th captive-bred juvenile was released into the wild in a conservation milestone.

Thought to be extinct for a century until its rediscovery in the Swan Valley in the 1950s, the Western Swamp Tortoise has been rescued by groups including the WA Department of Parks and Wildlife and the Perth Zoo.

Some of the work in which UWA and the University of Melbourne have been involved in recent years was funded by the Australian Research Council for a project on the Assisted Colonisation of the Western Swamp Tortoise which aims to maximise the changes that wild populations of this species survive under more uncertain climates.

The Western Swamp Tortoise is very vulnerable to climate change, as Perth has recently experienced drier winters that have led to poor breeding success in the wild. If swamps dry too early, females may not produce eggs, and hatchlings may not grow large enough to survive their first summer.

Tortoise habitat has also been lost due to land clearing for housing and agriculture, and degradation of habitat by pesticides and fertilisers and fire. Feral predators like cats, rats and foxes also eat tortoises and eggs.

Explore further: Florida to stop allowing tortoise kills

Related Stories

Two-headed tortoise goes on show in Ukraine

February 24, 2012

A two-headed Central Asian tortoise has gone on show at the natural science museum in Kiev where visitors will be able to observe the different eating habits of each head over the next two months.

Tortoise trafficking raging out of control in Madagascar

May 3, 2013

Illegal trafficking of two critically endangered tortoise species from Madagascar has reached epidemic proportions, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, Turtle Survival Alliance, ...

Genetic exploration of endangered Galapagos tortoises

December 19, 2013

The whalers, buccaneers, and other seafarers who plied the Pacific in centuries past brought rats, goats, and pigs along with them, seeding the islands they came across—intentionally and unintentionally—to establish food ...

Recommended for you

Genomes uncover life's early history

August 24, 2015

A University of Manchester scientist is part of a team which has carried out one of the biggest ever analyses of genomes on life of all forms.

Rare nautilus sighted for the first time in three decades

August 25, 2015

In early August, biologist Peter Ward returned from the South Pacific with news that he encountered an old friend, one he hadn't seen in over three decades. The University of Washington professor had seen what he considers ...

Why a mutant rice called Big Grain1 yields such big grains

August 24, 2015

(Phys.org)—Rice is one of the most important staple crops grown by humans—very possibly the most important in history. With 4.3 billion inhabitants, Asia is home to 60 percent of the world's population, so it's unsurprising ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.