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Building more protection for turtles

The Western Cape Turtle Threat Abatement Alliance (WCTTAA) will be upping the ante on the production of sea turtle nesting cages under a new scheme organised by Cape York NRM. 

The cages are one of the many success stories in safeguarding endangered sea turtles on the western Cape York Peninsula. The purpose-built aluminum grill cages protect turtle nests from feral animals digging for eggs.

“One of the issues for WCTTAA Land and Sea Rangers is having enough cages available to protect the turtle nests from predation during the nesting season,” Cape York NRM’s WCTTAA Coordinator Dr Manuela Fischer said. 

“They are factory-made and transported to the Cape, which can be costly and take time. We want to build capacity in our ranger groups through upskilling in welding and, ultimately, enabling them to build cages for themselves and supply other ranger groups on the Cape.”

Designed in 2016 by Robbie Morris, a former Pormpuraaw Land and Sea Management Ranger,  the cages prevent feral pigs, dogs and goannas from raiding turtle nests. 

And the initiative has been a success.  Since WCTTAA monitoring and protection began in 2013, the survival rate of nests and hatchlings has risen from 10 per cent to 90 per cent across seven beaches along approximately 140km of coastline. 

“These cages have had a huge impact on protection, especially when combined with feral pig control and other on-ground coastal management,” Manuela said. 

“So it’s important we find ways to increase the availability of cages by bringing the process back to the rangers. 

“We’re hoping to start soon, with welding training delivered during the wet season at Pormpuraaw Ranger Base over five days. Training will be conducted by INLOC and we provide all materials.”

“Other WCTTAA rangers are welcome to attend,” Manuela added. “We’ll just need to know numbers.”

WCTTAA is supported by Cape York NRM and received grant funding from the Australian Government.