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UPDATE 12 July 

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Western swamp tortoise trial release to provide crucial data

Western swamp tortoises have been released into the wild today with special data loggers attached that will help guide recovery efforts for the critically endangered species.

The 12 Perth Zoo-bred tortoises were released into Ellen Brook Nature Reserve in Perth's north-eastern suburbs.

Data loggers attached to the tortoises will record information about how long they spend in water, the depth of the water they forage in, and the summer-time conditions they experience when they aestivate under leaf litter and in holes during summer. After 12 months, the tortoises will be returned to Perth Zoo.

The trial will enable researchers to compare tortoises of similar age, genetics and history to tortoises being released at Meerup in the South-West, and will help guide decisions about possible future translocations of tortoises to other sites.

The project is being co-ordinated by Parks and Wildlife Service staff and scientists from the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, Perth Zoo and The University of Western Australia in partnership with Threatened Species Recovery Hub and the Friends of the Western Swamp Tortoise group.

It is estimated that there are up to 150 western swamp tortoises in existence, including about 50 adult wild tortoises.

Comments attributed to Environment Minister Stephen Dawson:

"The State Government has worked very hard since the 1980s to stabilise and increase the tiny wild populations of western swamp tortoises, through frequent releases of captive-bred animals and rigorous scientific research such as this important trial.

"The population of western swamp tortoises in the Ellen Brook Nature Reserve has recently benefited from a new 5.2 hectare fox-proof fenced area, funded by WWF Australia."

Comments attributed to Swan Hills MLA Jessica Shaw:

"Ellen Brook Nature Reserve continues to be a very important piece of remnant bushland in Perth's north, in that it harbours a self-sustaining population of western swamp tortoises and provides critical habitat for the species.

"I am proud of the enduring and strong support for the protection of this iconic species from the local community, particularly the Friends of the Western Swamp Tortoise community group which has been instrumental in improving its survival prospects."

Minister's office - 6552 5800