A life and death struggle The Western Swamp Tortoise—Australia’s most endangered reptile

It’s not often you get an invitation to make the difference between life and death, is it? Well here it is: your invitation to join a group of dedicated volunteers (Friends of the Western Swamp Tortoise) who have one important aim in common – to save the critically endangered Western Swamp Tortoise from extinction. We want to save the lives of wild tortoises and improve their habitat so that captive-bred animals can survive in the wild.

Humans are really making a positive difference for these creatures, after pushing them to the very limit, and we invite you to join us and bring them back from the edge of extinction.

The Friends of the Western Swamp Tortoise (FOWST) group was formed in July 2004 to raise local, national and international awareness of the critically endangered status of the Western Swamp Tortoise, through provision of information and educational resources.

One of our primary purposes is to encourage the public to assist Western Swamp Tortoise recovery activities towards a sustainable population in Western Australia, and complement the work of the Western Swamp Tortoise Recovery Team.

The group helps the Western Swamp Tortoise Recovery Team, which has been working at a government level for some years. A ‘Friends’ group was seen to have the potential to fill an important role in the education of the general public, and help the land managers, CALM, with on-ground work.

The group currently has 58 members, with a 12-member Executive Committee.Since our inception we have accomplished a lot…

We are now an incorporated body with a website at www.westernswamptortoise.com.au

We have received two Community Conservation Grants for on-ground work to improve tortoise habitat.

We have planted tube stock to revegetate one of the swamps the tortoises live in.

We’ve released 18 hatchlings bred at the Perth Zoo and dug tunnels for them to aestivate (like summer dormancy) safely over summer.

We’ve held many displays and public meetings to help people understand the conservation issues facing this reptile.

We’ve even done radio and TV spots (thanks RTR and Access 31).

We are currently working with a winery in the Swan Valley to promote the Western Swamp Tortoise on an international stage.

Yet even with our best efforts, there are only about 300 Western Swamp Tortoises alive, and many of them have not yet reached breeding age!


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