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Looking After Turtles for Future Generations

Indigenous Rangers from Pormpuraaw, Mapoon, Napranum and the Northern Peninsula Area/ Apudthama converged on Cairns on Tuesday 10 December for the annual Western Cape Turtle Threat Abatement Alliance (WCTTAA) meeting.

WCTTAA is a collaboration of five western Cape York Indigenous Ranger groups which work together to protect threatened marine turtles. The groups share resources and knowledge to efficiently manage threats to coastal habitats on the western Cape. 

Rangers emphasised the cultural significance of marine turtles for western Cape York communities, and the importance of looking after marine turtles for the next generation.

Cape York NRM’s Kerri Woodcock, who coordinates WCTTAA said the program had reduced feral pig predation of turtle eggs and hatchlings down from 90 percent in the early 2000s, to 10 percent on the 150 kilometres of coastline that the WCTTAA groups monitor.

‘It’s great to see Rangers come together at our end of year meeting. It provides an opportunity for them to connect in person, to discuss what we’ve achieved in 2019 and put plans in place for 2020.’

‘At this point, we can only put plans in place for the first six months of next year. Our Nest to Ocean Turtle Protection Program funding ends in June 2020 and the future of this highly successful program, which sees Rangers being supported to remove feral pigs and protect threatened marine turtle species for future generations, is in doubt.’

Representatives from APN Cape York, Rio Tinto and Queensland Government Department of Environment also participated in the meeting.

‘WCTTAA recognises that better outcomes for turtle conservation can be achieved through regional coordination and inclusive discussions,’ Ms Woodcock said.

Threatened Species Commissioner Dr Sally Box, who was a special guest at the meeting, spoke highly of the program.

‘The Rangers along the western Cape do amazing work managing feral pigs which are the main threat to these turtles, as well as monitoring turtle numbers and protecting turtle nests, eggs, and hatchlings. As a result, they have massively reduced predation rates,' she said.

‘This is a fantastic collaboration which has been running since 2013, and we’d love to see it continue beyond 2020.’

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.