It was an unexpected pleasure to see Gerald and Guundie Kuchling featured in a short item on Stateline last November. The feature focussed in part on the unusual situation of two European immigrants taking on the preservation of this uniquely West Australian animal. Most of you will realise that’s partly because the first Western Swamp Tortoise known to science was acquired by the Museum of Natural History in Vienna, where Gerald and Guundie once lived.
The program also emphasised the Kuchling’s amazing dedication to the tortoise’s conservation over the last 20 years.
“They’re relatively small, and not particularly colourful or anything, but very nice and interesting animals,” said Gerald. Guundie explained that her interest in tortoises has been lifelong, beginning when she kept Greek tortoises as pets when she was a child.
Her closing comments sum up their motivation: “I think we all have to leave our marks. I am committed to educating and entertaining children and to raising awareness that we are not alone on this planet, and we have a duty to look after other species, because if one species goes, another species goes, and we are part of the whole system.
“So I think it’s our responsibility to do something.”