Considered one of Australia’s most critically endangered animals, the freshwater turtle species has been in a fight for survival since 2015 when a virus devastated 90% of its population.
The Taronga Conservation Society was able to increase its zoo population to 80 turtles over three successful breeding seasons, after 16 healthy turtles were placed into the zoo’s conservation breeding program.
Work to save the Bellinger River Snapping Turtle was made possible with $300,000 from the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment’s Saving our Species program.
The NSW Department of Primary Industries is continuing its research into the virus which threatened the species, while community organisations, the Bellingen Riverwatch citizen science program and Bellinger Landcare are carrying out water quality monitoring and riverside habitat restoration.
NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean said the recent release of the turtles was essential for the future of the species.
“Putting the turtles back is only part of the puzzle. Strong partnerships remain crucial to recovering this species,” Mr Kean said.