Chairperson’s Report: 2006

This has been an exciting year for the Friends group with several projects being successfully undertaken.

  • We have received, and spent, two $5500 Community Conservation Grants and a Grant from Lotterywest for $5800 to prepare displays
  • With the help of Edgecombe Brothers Winery we fundraised almost $2000 through a cocktail party to help them launch their 50year Old Vine Shiraz. It was a resounding success, and we’ve promised to mount a permanent display for them as tourists and others visiting the Winery are fascinated with the tortoise.
  • We have completed earthworks at the Reserves, planted seedlings, installed tortoise gates, tidied up rat bait stations and removed thousands of watsonia bulbs. We collected seed and planted at Twin Swamps (the Regelia from last year’s plantings are bursting out of their plastic collars!!) and an extension to the Ellen Brook reserve is now fenced completely. We went out to fill the trenches left by the bulldozer along the fence line which DEC was concerned the tortoises might get trapped in, and the land is very bare, but adds a third to the size of the reserve. (More work – we need to put in some artificial ponds for the tortoises).
  • Our members have spread the word of the tortoise’s plight amongst students, seniors and other interested parties through talks, workshops and publicity. I did a radio interview on RTR, and Helen did a TV interview on Access 31, so we are getting the message out.
  • I also did a talk to the year 4/5s at Tuart Hill Primary, and they were so enthused they ran a cake stall, raised $180 and adopted a tortoise from the zoo. I was thrilled as I didn't even know about it until it was all over.
  • The students at Ellenbrook Primary invited me to talk to them to celebrate Threatened Species Day with them, and Tanya spread the word to a senior’s group at Midland.
  • We networked, informed and listened to experts, all with the aim of helping Australia’s most critically endangered reptile. The Recovery Team meeting reported about 220 Western Swamp Tortoises in the zoo, thanks to a bumper crop of hatchlings, and climate permitting, the Friends Group may be involved in a couple of releases next year.
  • Our website is up and running, www.westernswamptortoise.com
  • Our incorporated structure ensures that the group will be able to function for many years to come.
  • Social occasions included lunch at Gingers Roadhouse to view the Western Swamp Tortoise posters which look fantastic. There is a shade sail up, and plans for the perspex information panel to go up soon. Once the steel tortoise sculptures are attached to the fence, it will look superb.
  • We also had lunch at Edgecombe Bros Winery where we were treated quite royally. They are really keen to help the tortoise and will be a great sponsor. This meeting is a celebration and thanks for the dedication of the members and friends.
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