A citizen science project aimed at saving the vulnerable south-western snake-necked turtle has received a funding boost towards an innovative conservation scheme.
The South West Corridor Development Foundation (SWCDF) has been granted $131,700 in Lotterywest funding for the project, which incorporates community action and traditional owner knowledge, with the backing of university scientists and State and local government.
Volunteers will be trained as ‘turtle trackers’ by ecologists from Murdoch University’s Harry Butler Institute and will be able to use the new Turtle SAT app to record and monitor the native species.
The Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) is also supporting this initiative through training, licensing and by promoting the project throughout its network of volunteers.
Studies have shown that south-western snake-necked turtle populations are declining, particularly around Perth. A recent Murdoch University study found very few juvenile turtles of this long-lived species in 35 urban wetlands.
Predators such as foxes and ravens are a threat to the turtle, along with mortality from road strikes, across the range of this species – from Jurien Bay in the north to the Fitzgerald River National Park in the east and, if left unmanaged, there is concern about potential localised extinction.
The SWCDF is an alliance of local councils, including the City of Fremantle, Rockingham and Kwinana, working to achieve positive social and economic outcomes, and the sustainable long-term management of the natural environment since it was established.
As stated by Environment Minister Reece Whitby:
“This is a fantastic initiative bringing together volunteers, community organisations, traditional owners, State and local government, and backing them with lottery funding, to address this conservation challenge.
“The project is embracing modern technology, with the Turtle SAT app, enabling and empowering volunteers to provide feedback electronically.
“In the short and long-term, these population surveys will contribute to the monitoring, protection and recovery of one of our region’s most vulnerable species.
“I look forward to hearing positive news from this network of ecologists and volunteers about the health of the south-western snake-necked turtle.”