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Endangered Turtles Thrown a Lifeline

A generous donation of 50 turtle nest cages by two businesses, Hickey’s Metal Fabrication, and Specialised Brake and Clutch Service, to the Pormpuraaw Land and Sea Management Rangers (Pormpuraaw Rangers) will help the next generation of endangered olive ridley turtles survive.

Staff from the Penrith, NSW - based businesses donated time and materials to the effort which was organised by Specialised Brake and Clutch Service’s Kevin Gavin.

‘Everyone was very pleased to help,’ he said.

‘This is the least we can do to help protect Australia’s endangered marine turtles.’

The nest cages protect turtle eggs and hatchlings from predation by feral pigs – the main threat to Western Cape York endangered marine turtles.

The Pormpuraaw Rangers are members of the Western Cape Turtle Threat Abatement Alliance (WCTTAA), a partnership of five Indigenous Ranger groups who have reduced the rate of feral pig predation of marine turtle nests to approximately 10 percent on monitored beaches (down from around 90 percent in the year 2000).

WCTTAA Coordinator Kerri Woodcock said the donation would make a critical difference to the survival of the next generation of western Cape olive ridleys.

‘The western coast of Cape York Peninsula is the only place where the endangered olive ridley turtles nest in Queensland, with Pormpuraaw beaches playing a significant role in this species' reproduction cycle.

'Even though the Pormpuraaw Rangers carry out a targeted feral pig control program around these significant nesting beaches, it only takes one remaining pig to destroy many turtle nests in one night.

'The installation of these cages on the turtle nests protects the eggs and baby turtles from being eaten by feral pigs, and gives these special creatures the best chance of survival.

'At this stage of the population decline, every additional hatchling that can make it to the ocean matters.

‘The cages will be deployed by the Pormpuraaw Rangers through the winter months which is peak turtle nesting season on the western Cape.

‘On behalf of WCTTAA and its member groups, I want to thank Hickey's Metal Fabrication, and Specialised Brake and Clutch Service for their donation.’

Despite its record of success, WCTTAA funding is due to cease in June 2020.

‘It is not overstating it to say WCTTAA is the only thing standing between olive ridley turtles and localised extinction on the western Cape,’ Kerri said.

‘The program – which sees Indigenous Rangers undertake turtle monitoring and protection tasks across five areas on the western Cape – works. If no new funding is found, we expect feral pigs to once again increase on the western Cape. Given that only one in a thousand turtle hatchlings survive to adulthood in optimal circumstances, this will be the death knell for the endangered turtles of the western Cape.’

‘If businesses would like to provide support for the program to continue, please contact WCTTAA on kerri.woodcock@capeyorknrm.com.au.’

WCTTAA is supported by Cape York NRM and is funded by the Nest to Ocean Turtle Protection Program, a joint initiative of the Australian and Queensland Governments

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