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Tortoises away!

Last Saturday (31st July) saw the release of 15 captive-bred Western Swamp Tortoises (WSTs) into swampland within the Moore River Nature Reserve. Pseudemydura umbrina is Australia's most endangered reptile - in 1985 there were just two populations north of Perth totalling 30-50 animals. Today there are 700+ thanks to captive breeding at Perth Zoo. They are habitat specialists requiring shallow, well-vegetated ephemeral swamps on claypan soil - most of which has been irrevocably altered by human activity.

The Reserve lies outside the historic WST range but is suitable habitat, thus the DEC with help from the Friends of the WST are trying to establish a new wild population here. They are devastatingly cute and completely odourless (unlike the long-necked oblong tortoises). The young female I was charged with seemed to enjoy being handled (and posing for snapshots!) but dashed into the water without hesitation when I placed her on the lakeshore. Hope both she and her species have a long, prosperous future.

For more info go to: http://www.westernswamptortoise.com/

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She looks adorable :)

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