Image: Courtesy Aussie Ark
Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team
Date: October 21, 2022 8:54 am
Aussie Ark have undertaken the first release of the threatened Manning River turtle as part of their efforts to prevent the extinction of the species. Manning river turtles are being increasingly affected by drought, bushfires and floods but the Aussie Ark breeding program is seeking to return 100s of the threatened reptiles to the wild in coming years.
This week the program saw its first success with 10 turtles being released back to the wild. Making the milestone even more special is that these turtles were some of the first hatched at Aussie Ark in March and April 2020. It is hoped more eggs will be laid this year as breeding season begins.
“This has been a long time coming. We have cared for these juveniles for over 2 years now, and have watched and waited patiently as our river systems recovered from fire, drought and then floods” said Tim Faulkner, Aussie Ark Managing Director.
He continued “This is what the program is all about, rescuing an endangered species and getting them back to the wild. Getting to see them swim off into the river is not a site I will soon forget”
Prior to the release Aussie Ark staff spent time monitoring the Manning River to ensure it was substantial, clean and flowing. These turtles require a specialised habitat with relatively shallow, clear, continuously fast-flowing rivers with rocky and sandy substrates. During the 2019-2020 bushfires the water was contaminated.
“It’s been a tricky few years for our wildlife” said Jake Meney, Head of Reptiles at the Australian Reptile Park.
“These particular individuals were rescued during one of the worst drought and bushfire disasters our country has seen. Since then, though, their river systems have been hugely impacted by severe floods. It has been critical that we watch and wait patiently before releasing these guys back.”
At Aussie Ark the team is focused on a head start program. The tiny turtles are most at risk when in the egg. Aussie Ark experts raise the turtles through this most vulnerable stage and then return them to the wild as adults with a better chance of survival.
The work to save the Manning turtle is being supported by a number of partners including the Australian Reptile Park, Re:wild, WIRES, Glencore, Australian Geographic and the Turtle Conservancy. As well as local businesses, Kleinfelder, Manning River Steel, Aus Eco Solutions, Steber international and The Happy Wombat.
This release was funded through the Australian Government’s wildlife rescue and rehabilitation initiative, following the bushfire disaster of 2019/2020.
The Manning River turtle is also known as the Manning River snapping turtle. They feed on a range of small invertebrates along with fruit and aquatic vegetation.
What is the difference between a turtle and a tortoise and why have they got a shell on their back. Find these answers in our fact file.
Image: Courtesy Aussie Ark
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