On Saturday 21st July at the Chittering Landcare Centre ANZ bank presented a much-appreciated cheque for $10,600 to the Friends of the Western Swamp Tortoise (FoWST) group. The money had been raised from the sale of blue elephant moneyboxes at the bank’s WA branches, through an initiative of WWF Australia, with whom ANZ now has a national partnership.
The northern part of the Swan Valley is the last wild refuge of Australia’s rarest reptile—the Western Swamp Tortoise. Listed as critically endangered, this charming little animal is now under threat from a drying climate and the ongoing pressures of Perth’s growing population. Currently there are less than 50 wild mature individuals in the only two locations in the world.
The Friends of the Western Swamp Tortoise is a volunteer community group aiming to support the Department of Environment and Conservation and the Western Swamp Tortoise Recovery Team in their efforts to save this animal from extinction.
In the first part of the gathering, Christina Mykytiuk from WWF Wetland Watch spoke on the value of wetlands and how the Wetland Watch Program can help local landowners look after their wetland areas. Then Jan Bant of FoWST spoke of the tortoise’s plight and what is being done to help it. Following the cheque presentation and a sausage sizzle, Recovery Team Chief Investigator Dr Gerald Kuchling conducted a guided tour of the Ellen Brook Nature Reserve—one of the two sites where the tortoise still occurs naturally.
Dr Kuchling and his colleagues are investigating further translocation sites to increase the population in the wild. Keep an eye on the FoWST website for more details more details on how the funds raised by ANZ are being used.