2010 signified the change to bi-monthly meetings of the group. This has ensured a quorum at all meetings. This seems to have worked well. As most members are on email, it is an easy matter to contact members between meetings if necessary. Some of our meetings have been a comedy of errors, with such problems as the gate being locked by a concerned neighbour who didn’t realise a meeting was to be held, and the padlocks being changed ensuring we all got a bit of extra exercise. Hopefully, these hiccups have now been sorted out.
Fifteen Western Swamp Tortoise hatchlings were released at Moore River this year. 10 will return to the zoo because of the poor followup rainfall, but there are still a couple out there. It was great to see the number of children involved. I’m sure they will remember it for years to come.
2010 was again a difficult year, climatically, for the Recovery Team of the Western Swamp Tortoise. Poor winter rains impacted on the group again – there was only one planting event, and no other on ground works for much of the year. The CVA did some work in association with DEC personnel.
Some exciting things have been happening for the tortoise. There was a fear that several deaths of females in the Ellen Brook nature Reserve indicated the population was no longer self- sustaining, but the discovery of 3 new unmarked hatchlings has challenged that fear. Several researchers have been working on aspects of their care and breeding, through a 3 year ARC grant and the work has been reported in our newsletter, Tortoise Tales.
Plans for the Perth Zoo refurbishment and extension of the WST Captive Breeding facility are progressing, and it appears that Midland Brick will be a major sponsor. The prototype tank which we partly funded through a grant will be the basic model for the new tanks.
The message about the plight of the Western Swamp Tortoise was taken to heart by several schools this year. The Armadale Home Schoolers were so moved they prepared a presentation themselves for other students at a local Primary School. Sixty children at Challis Primary School were the recipients of a professionally delivered message from their peers. The Year 3 students at Bullsbrook Primary challenged me with some very in-depth questions, and raised $37 for the tortoise.
Once again, in collaboration with our sponsors, Edgecombe Brothers Winery, we held a very successful Foodlovers Tour of the Swan Valley. There is a bit of an issue with places for 2011, so we may need to forgo the event next year.
We have displayed at the Men of the Trees Open Day, Threatened Species Day at the Zoo, and the Wildflower Association event in Glen Forrest. Thanks to all those members who helped out.
An EPA review, Environmental Protection (WST Habitat) has been revised, and the 4th edition of the Recovery Plan 2010 to 2015 is currently waiting for ratification.
With the help of Tanya, we have managed to issue Tortoise Tales, which as usual, has been well received. If you have an idea for any articles you would like to see, or information you care to share, please let me know. Our activities have generated a lot of interest this year and we have picked up many new members.
Our website has gone from strength to strength, and continues to generate lots of hits, with weekly analysis showing interest from all corners of the globe. Thanks to Bob and Tanya for their hard work updating the site and keeping it fresh and current. Thanks must also go to Paul Andrews, the website designer, who has sent an email indicating he is happy to waive his fee as a donation to the tortoise.
We remain members of 2 umbrella groups, the Conservation Council and the Urban Bushland Council.
Thanks to all our dedicated Committee members for their continued hard work and great ideas to help the tortoise.