One of the world's rarest and most critically endangered reptiles has been given a lifeline, thanks to the record-breaking success of a collaborative breed-for-release program.
Almost 200 zoo-bred Western Swamp Tortoises have been released into the wild, the largest release since the program was established in 1989. Most of these tortoises were bred at Perth Zoo, with nine hatching at Adelaide Zoo.
The Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) and researchers from The University of Western Australia recently released 44 tortoises in Scott National Park and 147 at Moore River Nature Reserve.
The Scott River National Park population is being tested as a new site for the tortoises to manage potential impacts of climate change.
Prior to release, some tortoises were fitted with radio transmitters and data loggers to allow scientists to track their movements and collect valuable data on the outcomes of the release.
These habitats were carefully selected and are part of DCBA's Western Shield program, which conducts routine fox control to protect vulnerable native wildlife, like the Western Swamp Tortoise, from the threat of predation.
Since 1989, Perth Zoo has bred more than 1,200 Western Swamp Tortoises of which more than 1,000 have been released in the wild with the assistance of the Friends of the Western Swamp Tortoise community group.
For further information, view the interview with Leonie Perovic here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/z8pr9jx28l5oeq4/WSTRelease_VNR.mp4?dl=0
Comments attributed to Environment Minister Reece Whitby:
"This release is a major win for conservation and a testament to the hard work and collaboration of staff from DBCA and all of the scientific researchers and volunteers involved.
"I look forward to hearing how these tortoises go in their new habitat at Moore River Nature Reserve and Scott National Park."