Reviving the amazing Mary River Turtle!

Championed by:  Simon Baltais

Share  Facebook Twitter

$30,000

target

$8,400  raised
$21,600 needed

This project has completed

Deadline  31 March 2014

Choose your donation

about the project

Reviving the amazing Mary River Turtle!

Simon Baltais

.................

They say you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone!

That was almost the case for the amazing Mary River Turtle. You see it wasn’t until 1994 that they were formally described as a new species and by then they were on the edge of extinction.

This is a fascinating story of how one man, a turtle egg collector, and the trade in ‘penny turtles’ as pets almost wiped out the Mary River Turtle. It’s also the story of how, with your help, this ancient, unique Queenslander can and will be revived.

Each year between 1962 and 1974 around 15,000 eggs of the Mary River Turtle were collected, mostly by one man who sold them into the pet trade. They were traded under the name, the Common Saw-shelled Turtle Elseya latisternum, and hatchlings were known as the 'Penny Turtle'.

  


Turtle biologists who saw them in pet shops could see they were a unique species. They called them 'short-neck alpha', however they were not able to formally describe them because the pet traders refused to reveal their source of supply. Turtle enthusiasts and biologists continued to search for the location of the turtle in the wild for 25 years until eventually they were ‘discovered’ at a property on the Mary River in late 1990. Four adults were collected and the Mary River Turtle was formally described as a new species within a new genus in 1994. No other turtle in the world is closely related.

The massive number of eggs collected for the wildlife trade resulted in an entire generation of turtles being removed from the wild, leaving a reduced, aging population.

   

Today the Mary River Turtle is one of the most endangered turtles in the world. It’s listed as an endangered species internationally by the IUCN and by both the Queensland and Australian governments.

Even now, in 2014 hatchlings are rare. You see there is another problem, one that we need to tackle if the Mary River Turtle is to survive.
 
Today the biggest threat to the survival of the Mary River Turtle is predation of eggs by foxes, dogs and goannas and trampling of nests by cattle. This current threat has the potential to remove another generation of turtle hatchlings from the wild and drive the species to extinction.

We can turn things around and rescue the unique and endangered Mary River Turtle and we’ve developed a plan to do it. I need to ensure that in 2014 all nests of the endangered Mary River Turtle are protected from predators and trampling by cattle.

This requires identification of all nest sites, the placement of nest guards, the installation of electric fencing and ongoing monitoring, so that in case of floods the eggs can be moved.

Will you join me in rescuing the Mary River Turtle from extinction by making a tax-deductible donation today?

Each $30 donated will ensure another Mary River Turtle hatchling makes its way into the wild.
 
Until recently only a handful of nests avoided predation by foxes, dogs and goannas and trampling by cattle. This resulted in very few hatchlings surviving, however this number is now on the rise.

The dedication and hard work of Marilyn Connell and the members of Tiaro Landcare Group are making the difference. They have been implementing a program to protect turtle nests for a number of years. They now know exactly what to do to grow the population of the Mary River Turtle.

  

The Mary River Turtle is faithful to traditional nest sites that the same females use each year. Their location is a strongly guarded secret, but Marilyn and her team knows where they are.

Each female turtle lays one clutch of 12 to 25 eggs. They begin laying in mid October and continue throughout November and December. Natural incubation periods are around 50 days and hatchlings emerge throughout December and until February. Marilyn knows this too so during this time the nest sites are closely monitored.



When a female lays her eggs the very next day Marilyn and her team spring into action. They place a specially designed plastic screen on each nest that is pegged down and lightly covered with loose sand. That eliminates the foxes, dogs and goannas. Then they install electric fencing around the entire nesting site to exclude cattle and eliminate the risk of tramlining. On an ongoing basis they monitor the site, paying particular attention to any heavy rain event. In the event of flooding they rescue the eggs and relocate them to the highest point on the bank.

This dedication and absolute commitment to the Mary River Turtle is exceptional and many clutches of eggs have successfully hatched that would otherwise have been lost. Yet there is only so much a small volunteer team can achieve and with limited resources, only so many turtle hatchlings that they can help survive. 

Like Marilyn and Tiaro Landcare, Wildlife Queensland is committed to the survival of the Mary River Turtle. So we’ve formed a partnership to deliver this project that will see all Mary River Turtle nests protected. We’re going to expand the existing program until 1,000 hatchlings are protected every year. But we can’t do it without your support. 

Wildlife Queensland is stepping in to help, but this year it’s up to you and me to save the Mary River Turtle. In the past Tiaro Landcare received funding from the Queensland and Australian governments. But not anymore.

Will you join me in rescuing the Mary River Turtle from extinction. Please, can you make a tax-deductible donation to this special appeal?

Each $30 donated will ensure another Mary River Turtle hatchling makes its way into the wild.
 
The Mary River Turtle has suffered very poor breeding success for three to four decades. We can turn that around with your support.

Let’s not look back and say we let the Mary River Turtle disappear forever.  

 Yours sincerely,  

Simon Baltais

President, Wildlife Queensland  

P.S. It’s not very day that you can save a threatened species from extinction so I’m extremely excited about this project. Please help me to help the Mary River Turtle continue its long evolutionary journey by ensuring turtle hatchlings can return to the wild!  



What your donation will do.

For $30 you can give life to one Mary River Turtle hatchling.
For $90 you can give life to three Mary River Turtle hatchlings.
For $150 you can give life to five Mary River Turtle hatchlings.
For $600 you can give life to twenty Mary River Turtle hatchlings.
For $3,000 you can give life to one hundred Mary River Turtle hatchlings.

By reaching our $30,000 target a total of 75 Mary River Turtle nests will be protected ensuring a minimum of 1,000 hatchlings will return to the wild.

It costs $400 to protect each Mary River Turtle nest. Each nest can have between 12 and 25 eggs. Protected nests have a turtle hatchlings success rate of around 80%, so $30 will ensure that at least one and possibly more turtle hatchlings will survive.

More Mary River Turtle Facts!

Mary River Turtles are listed in the world's top 40 most endangered turtle species. They have a very restricted distribution and can only be found on the Mary River in south east Queensland.



The habitat of the turtle is not in a declared protected area like a national park. The river exists entirely on private property and as a result, the habitat is inadequately protected.

Dr Col Limpus is a world renowned turtle biologist who’s studied the Mary River Turtle for over 20 years. He’s seen the population of turtles decline, he’s also seen the recovery actions that are successful. He say’s “We know protecting the nest will work and that by implementing these actions we’ll save the Mary River Turtle from extinction. Nests that are protected and fenced the morning after eggs are laid result in 80% of protected eggs producing hatchlings”.
 



One man, a turtle egg collector and trader in “penny turtles’ as pets is all it took to bring the Mary River Turtle to the brink of extinction. He carried out most of the turtle egg harvest from the Mary River when it was legal, between 1962 and 1974, by then the damage was done. Legal trade in turtles in Queensland ceased in 1974.
 

Interviews with the egg collector has revealed many details of the Mary River Turtle story. After the last laying of each season entire sand banks throughout the area were dug up to make sure that no nests had been missed. It is likely that there was little or no recruitment of Mary River Turtle hatchlings during this time over a 120 km stretch of the Mary River and over one decade, 120,000 eggs were taken.
The Mary River Turtle takes an exceptionally long time to reach maturity. According to population models, the projected age at maturity is around 25 years This aging population of turtles can’t live forever.  

We urgently need to ensure a new generation of Mary River Turtle hatchlings survive. We can do that by ensuring all nests are protected in 2014. We know the biggest threat to the survival of the Mary River Turtle today is predation of eggs by foxes, dogs and goannas and trampling by cattle. This current threat has the potential to remove another generation from the wild and place the entire species at risk of extinction.


The Mary River Turtle has suffered very poor breeding success for three to four decades. We can turn that around with your support.

Each $30 donated will ensure another Mary River Turtle hatchling makes its way into the wild.

Please supporting this exciting project that will save the Mary River Turtle from extinction. Please join me and make your donation today.
 


The Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland
 is the oldest, largest and most respected wildlife-focused conservation group in Queensland. We've been part of all the major conservation issues in Queensland for 50 years. We are a community environmental organisation with a wonderfully diverse and dedicated team of members, volunteers, supporters and staff united by a deep passion for wildlife and conservation.
 

comments

Live long and prosper little Mary River Turtle. ... I seem to recall having a penny turtle as a kid in Melbourne :( feels much better seeing one released into the wild.

-  Kelvin Davies

Great project. Thank you Wildlife Queensland.

-  simon baltais

Thank you to all the volunteers for the hard work on this important project, and best of luck to my turtle hatchling!

-  Karen Palmer

Good luck little turtle babies - may you live long enough to all become great grandparents!

-  Anne Gribbon

This is a great initative and I fully support the project. Please let me know if you need volunteer to help with the rescue.

-  kelly Matthews

I hope this little helps a lot in keeping this species alive.

-  Kriszta Barclay

Good luck. I remember these little guys were popular during the 60's. I used to catch mosquitoes for my neighbours to feed to theirs!

-  Sally Lowe

My kids loved the story of Yakkin the turtle in their childhood. Thanks for helping the little turtles get their turn in the sunshine

-  Deborah Mills

The Mary River Turtle is part of what makes Queensland and Australia beautiful and unique. go forth and multiply, my little hatchling!

-  Adele Fletcher

Thank you for creating awareness.

-  Karen Callihoo

I hope the illegal collector is in jail!!! He probably got a meagre fine...

-  Marion Anstis

go th eturtle

-  Joolie Gibbs

Amazing project, good luck!

-  Amanda Todd

Go my little hatchling, live long and prosper!

-  lucy mohr

Good luck with the project !

-  alex Jakimoff

Great job being done!!!!

-  Sue Wedlock

this is very inspiring. thankyou for your commitment and work

-  Rachael Stacy

Little by little, a difference can be made. DO YOUR BIT! :)

-  Mia Lambot

Hi Kel. Hope all is going well Julia

-  Julia Playford

We hope you will reach your target and best wishes for the project.

-  Karl Kirsch

saving just one turtle makes a difference but saving hundreds makes a WORLD of difference

-  Trish Wimberley

Great project! Good luck! Also happy to volunteer assistance if required.

-  Judy Haines

Thank you for your wonderful work

-  Kristina Di Marco

Congratulations for doing such great work in saving these wonderful turtles. It is a lot of work and it will pay off in many areas in the future. Thank you for what you are doing.

-  Lynn Childs

With the ever-increasing appeals for so many urgent conservation causes, this is one we must not ignore. What a great survivor against such odds, you deserve to long outlive the human species.

-  Liz Downes

Fantastic work to save an iconic species. We need a lot more people to dip into their pockets so pass the message on.

-  Peter and Andrea Storer

Who can forget the picture of the moss-haired Mary River Turtle from the Traveston Dam campaign?! Well done Simon, Landcare and the volunteer group!

-  Kate Cranney

Swim on, little Elusors!

-  Melanie Venz

We wish you and the Mary River turtle well

-  Jenny Hacker

Good luck! Here's hoping more people donate soon!

-  Kay KELLY

Good luck to the little turtles.

-  Jan Smith

Good luck!

-  Pat Lowe

In memory of my late husband George on his birthday

-  Joan Fisher

In memory of my late father George, who liked little living things, on his birthday.

-  Stephen Fisher

Hope you succeed. well done.

-  Jo Neyens

thank you to the rainforest guardian angels, our world would be lost without you.

-  Lee Beecheno

From one Churchill Fellow to the good deeds of another ... keep up the good work! Neale Kemp

-  Neale Kemp

Thank you for youre work!!

-  george keml

Keep up the good work, Tiaro Landcare!

-  Laura Shields

What about raising some off-site to a larger size and then releasing? Dig up the eggs and feed hatchlings to ensure they reach a certain size before having to 'brave' the wilds!

-  Joanna Yesberg

Please keep me informed

-  Angela Arthington

Great project - great marketing campaign! Keep up the good work for Queensland threatened species. Cheers Noleen

-  Noleen Brown

.................