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Critically endangered turtles given helping hand

critically endangered turtle
White-throated Snapping Turtles were captured on camera by WYLD Projects making their way safely into the Burnett River.

Brad Crosbie is now one of the very few people in Australia to have witnessed critically endangered White-throated Snapping Turtles hatching.

The WYLD Projects founder and director has been collaborating with the Department of Environment and Science to protect the turtles, which are unique to the region, for the last three years.

But on Christmas Eve Brad experienced a first, arriving at the protected nests along the Burnett River just in time to welcome the hatchlings to the world.

“There’s probably only a handful of people in Australia that have ever seen [White-throated Snapping Turtle] hatchlings emerge out of the ground,” Brad said.

“I was just lucky enough to see those turtles emerge out of the ground when I was sitting there.”

critically endangered turtles
Brad said Taribelang Bunda Elders Uncle Tic and Uncle Will Broome supported the program.

White-throated Snapping Turtles are only found in the Burnett, Mary and Fitzroy River catchments.

Also known as “bum breathers”, adult females don’t typically lay a clutch of eggs until they’re about 20 years old.

As part of the collaborative project Brad has been given authority by DES to relocate the turtle nests, with the support of Taribelang Bunda Elders Uncle Tic and Uncle Will Broome.

He said nesting season for the critically endangered turtles was between May and June.

“In those rainy winter nights we’re out on the river looking for tracks,” Brad said.

“We find the clutches … dig those clutches up and relocate into nest protection cages.

“They sit in those cages until around December each year and they come out.”

Brad said it was a necessary measure with predation from foxes and goannas often wiping out entire clutches.

“Without nest protection the species would become extinct.”

Brad said Bundaberg Regional Council had supported the program to protect the critically endangered turtles through pest animal control.

WYLD stands for Where Youth Live Dreams and is a not for profit corporation based in Bundaberg.

“WYLD Projects is all about supporting our aboriginal youth,” Brad said.

“We get our youth involved to connect them back on country.”

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