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Western Cape turtles face an uncertain future

The Western Cape Turtle Threat Abatement Alliance (WCTTAA), a collective of five Indigenous Ranger groups (Pormpuraaw, Mapoon, Napranum, Northern Peninsula Area Regional Council / Apudthama and Kowanyama), spent the 2019 winter months counting endangered marine turtle nests, protecting turtle nests from feral pigs and removing marine debris from western Cape beaches.

Between July and September, WCTTAA monitored 150 kilometres of the remote western Cape coastline. The goal of ensuring that as many turtle hatchlings reach the water as possible requires a combination of activities including the targeted removal of feral pigs from both the ground and air, as well as the installation of nest protection cages in some locations.

As the year winds down, planning ramps up for WCTTAA’s end of year Forum which will focus on reviewing the outcomes of the 2019 turtle season and contemplating the year ahead.

Cape York NRM’s Kerri Woodcock, who coordinates the Alliance, said while the group continued to achieve success after success, program funding was due to run out in June 2020.

‘The Alliance of land and sea managers on the western Cape is working collaboratively and building local capacity to deliver a threatened species recovery program.

Through the support of the Nest to Ocean Turtle Protection Program, WCTTAA is achieving the low nest predation rates required, but a long-term approach is needed to secure these populations.

‘With funding due to finish up in June 2020, marine turtles on the western Cape face an uncertain future.’

WCTAA Chair Robbie Morris echoed Kerri’s sentiments.

‘WCTTAA has made a huge difference to the outlook of a range of marine turtles. We know what works when it comes to protecting these threatened species, and we are getting it done. We call on the Queensland and Australian governments to commit to funding this successful program which is not only protecting culturally significant species but also supporting Indigenous peoples to work on country.’

This project is funded by the Nest to Ocean Turtle Protection Program, which is a joint initiative of the Australian and Queensland Governments.