Western Swamp Tortoise Timeline

1839 First specimen sent to the Vienna Museum of Natural History by J.A. Ludwig Preiss, who collected in south-western Australia from 1839 to 1841

1901 Scientifically described and named Pseudemydura umbrina by Siebenrock

1953 Rediscovered by schoolboy Robert Boyd in Upper Swan; two specimens taken to WA Naturalists’ Club Show

1962 Twin Swamps & Ellenbrook Nature Reserves established to protect estimated wild population of 200-250

1972 Single juvenile specimen collected at Five Mile Swamp at southern end of Perth Airport land

1973 Biologist Gerald Kuchling sees the museum specimen in Vienna (he was employed as research assistant in the Museum from 1973-1975)

1985 Twin Swamps population nearly extinct; species down to 30-50 surviving animals

1988 Under direction of the Western Swamp Tortoise Captive Breeding Management Committee (CALM, UWA, Perth Zoo) Gerald Kuchling sets up a captive breeding program at Perth Zoo, with funding from WWF-Australia, CALM and Perth Zoo


1990 Western Swamp Tortoise Management Program published and Western Swamp Tortoise Recovery Team (a collaboration between Perth Zoo, CALM, UWA, Curtin University and WWF) established


1991 Responsibility for the captive breeding program transferred to Perth Zoo, with G. Kuchling continuing to provide help and advice.

1992 Western Swamp Tortoise Recovery Plan formulated by Recovery Team

1994 Re-introduction of captive-bred tortoises starts at Twin Swamps Nature Reserve

2000 New population established (from captive bred animals) at Mogumber Nature Reserve, north of Perth

2001
Further releases of captive bred tortoises at Mogumber NR

2004 Formation of Friends of the Western Swamp Tortoise group

2005 Record number (75) of tortoises bred during this year at Perth Zoo, which won the national ‘In-situ Conservation Award’ for its efforts; 54 animals released to reserves.

2007-2008 Release of 48 captive bred juvenile tortoises at Mogumber NR.

2009 Tortoises released at Moore River NP.

2010 Release of further 15 tortoises at Moore River, with 10 returned to zoo due to poor winter rains in the following month. Discovery of 3 new hatchlings (wild born) at Ellen Brook NR.

2011 Progress made in the refurbishment of Perth Zoo’s captive breeding facility. Release of 60 juvenile tortoises – half to Moore River and half to Twin Swamps, with the latter event attended by the WA Environment Minister.

2012 Total of 32 juveniles released at Twin Swamps NR.

2013 Celebrated 50 years of scientific monitoring of the tortoise; 65-year-old female ‘Tortoise Number 4’ (still fertile) was recaptured and briefly on display at celebration.

2014 Release of the 500th Western Swamp Tortoise bred by Perth Zoo.    The 10th anniversary of the formation of the Friends group (July).

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