Western Cape York’s endangered and vulnerable sea turtles now have safer nesting sites, thanks to an innovative collaboration between local Indigenous ranger groups.

In its first three years of operation, The Western Cape Turtle Threat Abatement Alliance (WCTTAA) has significantly reduced predation of turtles on the western Cape coast.

The region is Queensland’s only nesting site for the endangered Olive Ridley turtle, and is an important nesting area for the vulnerable Flatback and Hawksbill turtles.

Feral pigs, wild dogs and goannas are the main turtle egg predators, while human activity around nesting sites can deter laying or damage nests and eggs. In 2013, local people and organisations formed WCTTAA, bringing together land and sea managers to work for the protection of marine turtles and their nesting sites.

WCTTAA members and stakeholders held a forum in Cairns in February to review progress and identify future goals.

The forum heard WCTTAA Indigenous rangers have monitored and protected turtle nests along more than 150 kilometres of remote coastline, removed hundreds of ghost nets from the area, and co-ordinated the removal of many thousands of feral pigs.

WCTTAA has also developed an effective communications program aimed at reducing human impact on turtle nesting.

Through these activities, the Alliance has achieved a significant reduction in clutch loss – the number of eggs taken by predators from turtle nests.

On beaches monitored by WCTTAA rangers in 2016, turtle egg predation fell below scientifically determined target levels, increasing the chance of maintaining viable turtle
nesting populations in future.

WCTTAA Chair Robbie Morris said this is a good achievement in a relatively short time, which has strengthened local capacity to deal with environmental issues.

Cape York NRM CEO Bob Frazer attributes the success of the Alliance to the strong and effective links between all its member groups.

WCTTAA is supported by Cape York NRM, and funded by the Australian and Queensland Governments through the Nest to Ocean Turtle Protection Program. That funding expires at
the end of this year.

At the Forum, the WCTTAA Ranger groups re-committed to working as an Alliance, and to further improving turtle conservation outcomes for western Cape York Peninsula.

To find out more and to support WCTTAA, contact Western Cape Turtle Threat Abatement Alliance Coordinator Kerri Woodcock on wcttaa@capeyorknrm.com.au