Turtles and eggs collected for insurance population after catastrophic events.
Aussie Ark staff alongside president Tim Faulkner, collected the first Manning River turtles to begin the development of the insurance population. Aussie Ark keepers have also rescued 12 eggs from a nest site that was at imminent risk of predation. The eggs were relocated to the Australian Reptile Park for incubation. Once hatched some of the hatchlings will be the first turtles release back into the wild.
In 2018, Aussie Ark in collaboration with the Australian Reptile Park committed to saving the critically endangered Manning River turtle from extinction, after their status was upgraded in 2017. The speed of disappearance of the Manning River Turtle from the waterways of the Barrington Coast warranted the upgrade of the turtle’s status to Endangered in 2017.
Aussie Ark President Tim Faulkner says “Manning River turtles are vital in maintaining river systems within the Barrington Tops region. Without them aquatic ecosystems tumble. We took notice, 2 years ago, and now catastrophic events have nearly wiped their entire population.”
Aussie Ark has now collected the first specimens to begin the establishment of a robust insurance population of the endangered turtles. The first male, female and juveniles were relocated to the state-of-the-art facility at the Australian Reptile Park. The turtles will soon be joined by other individuals, in the hopes that the waterways in Barrington Tops will soon be abundant with Manning River turtles, once more.
Freshwater turtles are nature’s vacuum cleaners, they are critical to our freshwater ecosystems, cleaning up river systems, keeping aquatic vegetation in balance, and maintaining the stunning waterways Australia is known for.
Why is the Manning River turtle important?
(Story published on abc.net.au 17 June 2019)
It has been described as one of Australia’s most beautiful and ancient creatures, yet much is still not known about the rare and endangered Manning River helmeted turtle.
It is referred to as a ‘living fossil’ and the small, freshwater turtle lives only in the middle and upper reaches of the Manning River catchment on the mid north coast of New South Wales.
In 2017 it was declared an endangered species, and Office of Environment and Heritage researcher Andrew Steed said it was at risk from habitat loss, predation and disease.
“The Manning River helmeted turtle is regarded as one of Australia’s most beautiful freshwater turtles, having bright yellow stripes on its head, throat and tail,” Mr Steed said.
“Its ancestors go back to about the age the dinosaurs disappeared, so 50 to 60 million years ago. The species is the ancestor of virtually all Australian turtles. It is one of only four species in the genus, two of those are also endangered in NSW.”
“Its first sister is the Bellinger River snapping turtle, which only occurs in the Bellinger River and had a catastrophic population crash in 2016. The other is the Bell’s turtle from up on the NSW Northern tablelands.
Mr Steed said the Manning River turtle never strayed far from the river.
“It only has a short neck, so it can’t fully retract its neck into its shell, so it’s very vulnerable to predation.”
About Aussie Ark
As a not for profit organisation, Aussie Ark raises the necessary funds to continue its ambitious vision. Investment allows for the construction of captive facilities and predator proof fencing on semi-wild parcels of land. Aussie Ark is a registered environmental organisation and charitable institution under the Australian Charity and Not-for-Profit Commission. Aussie Ark has deductible gift recipient status (DGR status) and is registered for GST purposes. More information at www.aussieark.org.au