May 022014

Wildlife Preservation Society of QueenslandOriginal story by Peter Ogilvie, Wildlife Queensland

The assault on nature conservation in Queensland

Why has the Newman Government chosen to comprehensively neutralise nature conservation and its associated legislation in Queensland, particularly in relation to national parks?

There doesn’t appear to be any political imperative, as is the case in NSW where a party with the balance of power in the Upper House is demanding hunting access to national parks. The Liberal National Party (LNP) government in Queensland has had complete and unassailable control of the uni-cameral parliament since it reduced the Labor opposition to seven members following the March 2012 election. Neither can it be explained purely as a matter of ideology. Coalition governments in Queensland and elsewhere in Australia have been responsible for some significant advances in nature conservation. After all, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) was enacted by a Coalition government in Canberra, as was the latest strongly protective zoning plan for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. There has been the suggestion that the government is undoing what was created by former Goss, Beattie and Bligh Labor governments. However, several matters that have been neutralised are actually products of earlier Coalition governments. Which leaves one other possible explanation, perverse though it may be, that they are doing it simply because they can.

Kondalilla falls, Sunshine Coast, Queensland. Photo: Damien Dempsey/Wikimedia Commons

Kondalilla falls, Sunshine Coast, Queensland. Photo: Damien Dempsey/Wikimedia Commons

Nevertheless, what they have done needs to be clearly documented so this government can be held to account, perhaps sadly not in its lifetime, but by future generations that will want to know where the blame lies.

The Banishment of National Parks

Continue reading »

Apr 272014

By Greg Wallis (pseudechis) at YouTube

The Northern Snake-necked or Long-necked Turtle (Chelodina [Macrochelodina] oblonga [until recently referred to as rugosa]) is a common turtle of the lowland freshwater areas of northern Australia.

This video was filmed in a rainforest spring in the catchment of the Finniss River in the Northern Territory, Australia.

The Northern Snake-necked Turtle is a much sort after food source by the local Aboriginal people.

The back legs and tail of a small Freshwater Crocodile (Crocodylus johnstoni) is visible along the left hand edge of the screen just above the centre about half way through the video.

Apr 152014

published by the Department of Environment

Wetlands Australia: National Wetlands Update February 2014

Wetlands Australia: National Wetlands Update February 2014



The international theme of World Wetlands Day 2014 is “Wetlands and Agriculture: Partners for Growth”. For millennia, wetlands have been used directly for agriculture, and for supplying food, fuel and fibre to support lives and livelihoods. Wetlands continue to play an essential role in supporting modern day agriculture. They provide water storage, flood buffering, nutrient removal, water purification and erosion control. Sustainable practices which support both agriculture and healthy wetlands are therefore coming to the fore.

This edition of Wetlands Australia includes several feature articles on wetlands and agriculture, along with many other articles on current wetland projects and programs.

Australia was one of the first countries to sign the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (more commonly known as the Ramsar Convention), and in 1974 designated the world’s first Ramsar site: Cobourg Peninsula in the Northern Territory.  In celebration of the 40th anniversary of the first Ramsar designation, this edition of Wetlands Australia also features 23 articles celebrating Australian Ramsar sites.

If you would like to contribute to future editions of Wetlands Australia, please

Download individual chapters

Introduction and contents (PDF – 698.64 KB)

Wetlands and Agriculture: Partners for Growth (PDF – 888.7 KB)

  • Wimmera wetland project benefits whole farm
  • Murray Wetland Carbon Storage project
  • Territory Conservation Agreements – helping pastoralists look after wetlands
  • Agricultural water supports wetlands and tourism
  • I’d like to order some bitterns and rice, please
  • Burdekin cane farmer builds a wetland for the future

Ramsar wetland management in Australia (PDF – 749.5 KB)

  • Ramsar in New South Wales – a tale of 12 sites
  • Queensland wetlands celebrate 20 years of Ramsar listing
  • Banrock Station wetland and vineyard – a perfect blend
  • Record breaking flight signals the importance of conserving wetlands
  • Environmental flows bring waterbirds to Tuckerbil Swamp Ramsar site
  • Managing weed and sea level rise threats to Kakadu’s tropical river floodplains

Wetland conservation and restoration (PDF – 807.27 KB)

  • An update on wetland restoration on private land in South Australia and Victoria
  • Protecting and enhancing the wonderful Moolort Wetlands of Victoria
  • Using historical mine pits in Western Australia to create a wetlands complex for the benefit of water bird conservation and the local community
  • Doing it together – a good news story about the fairies and the ferry
  • From little things, big things grow
  • Successful rehabilitation of a Waterbird Refuge
  • Kids tell companies to mind their business
  • Students and surf club – the clean-up team!

Water management and wetlands (PDF – 828.02 KB)

  • Environmental watering in the Lower Lachlan River catchment, New South Wales
  • To wade or not to wade – hydrological management effects on species composition
  • Partnering to restore the Mallowa Creek floodplain wetlands

Wetland management and research (PDF – 706.58 KB)

  • Queensland Indigenous Land and Sea Ranger Program
  • The Finke River- salty & lovin’ it
  • Novel ecosystem, novel approaches
  • Sixth Lake Eyre Basin Conference – cross-border collaboration

Celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Ramsar Convention in Australia – a showcase of Australian Ramsar sites (PDF – 2.94 MB)

  • Cobourg Peninsula Ramsar Site, Northern Territory
  • Kakadu National Park Ramsar Site, Northern Territory
  • Barmah Forest Ramsar Site, Victoria
  • Flood Plain Lower Ringarooma River Ramsar Site, Tasmania
  • Gippsland Lakes Ramsar Site, Victoria
  • Logan Lagoon Ramsar Site, Tasmania
  • Moulting Lagoon Ramsar Site, Tasmania
  • Port Phillip Bay (Western Shoreline) and Bellarine Peninsula Ramsar Site, Victoria
  • Hunter Estuary Wetlands Ramsar Site, New South Wales
  • Towra Point Ramsar Site, New South Wales
  • The Coorong and Lakes Alexandrina and Albert Ramsar Site, South Australia
  • Macquarie Marshes Ramsar Site, New South Wales
  • Coongie Lakes Ramsar Site, South Australia
  • Eighty-mile Beach Ramsar Site, Western Australia
  • Lake Toolibin Ramsar Site, Western Australia
  • Peel-Yalgorup System Ramsar Site, Western Australia
  • Blue Lake Ramsar Site, New South Wales
  • Ginini Flats Wetland Complex Ramsar Site, Australian Capital Territory
  • Great Sandy Strait Ramsar Site, Queensland
  • Banrock Station Wetland Complex Ramsar Site, South Australia
  • Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs Ramsar Site, Coral Sea Islands Territory
  • The Dales Ramsar Site, Christmas Island
  • Piccaninnie Ponds Karst Wetlands Ramsar Site, South Australia

Calendar of events (PDF – 482.54 KB)

Previous editions of Wetlands Australia are also available:

Apr 112014

Original story by Jake Sturmer, ABC News

A new study of Australia’s dirtiest and cleanest beaches has revealed some surprising results.

A red-footed Booby on a polluted beach in Australia. Photo: Dr Denise Hardesty, CSIRO

A red-footed Booby on a polluted beach in Australia. Photo: Dr Denise Hardesty, CSIRO

CSIRO researchers have spent two years surveying Australia’s entire coastline, counting rubbish on sections of sand and sea every 100 kilometres.

Australia’s dirtiest and cleanest beaches


  • Dirtiest: Shelly Beach, Manly
  • Cleanest: Red Rock Beach, NSW North Coast

Northern Territory

  • Dirtiest: Cape Arnhem
  • Cleanest: Cape Hay


  • Dirtiest: Barney Point Beach, Gladstone
  • Cleanest: Mackay

South Australia

  • Dirtiest: Border Village (SA)
  • Cleanest: Nora Creina


  • Dirtiest: East Kangaroo Island (West Gulch)
  • Cleanest: Cape Grim


  • Dirtiest: Pearse’s Road Beach
  • Cleanest: Gibbs Track Beach, Lakes Entrance

Western Australia

  • Dirtiest: Ellensbrook Beach
  • Cleanest: 80 Mile Beach

Source: CSIRO

The survey of more than 175 beaches found the dirtiest beach in Australia was Border Village on the coast between Western Australia and South Australia.

This was typical of the study that found remote and hard to reach beaches were among Australia’s most grotty.

Lead researcher Dr Denise Hardesty says the rubbish did not float in from polluted oceans abroad.

By using ocean current data and examining the items, researchers could tell much of the mess fell from the hands of ordinary Australians.

“In general most of what we find is from us,” Dr Hardesty said.

“No matter how remote you are, how close you are to an urban city, we leave our litter everywhere.”

Illegal dumping, irresponsible mariners and careless beachgoers are all to blame, she says.

Researchers are suggesting increased regulation and enforcement, particularly of illegal dumping.

“We aren’t doing as well as we could, as we need to be doing, in terms of waste management,” Dr Hardesty said.

More than 150 million pieces of rubbish

The CSIRO study estimates more than 150 million pieces of rubbish litter Australia’s sand and shores.

The most common item was plastic following rapid growth in global plastic production.

“More than three-quarters of what we find in terms of rubbish is plastic,” Dr Hardesty said.

This had a disastrous effect on some 600 marine species who then consumed what researchers have termed “plastic food”.

Dr Hardesty said she had found cigarette lighters, toothbrushes, pill bottles and bottle caps in the stomachs of birds.

“We open turtles that have died and see that they’re jammed full of plastics,” she said.

“I’ve found over 200 pieces of plastic in a single bird.”

Communities cleaning up Australia

Retired plastic surgeon John Hanrahan and other former professionals have formed a group to clean up the waters off Western Australia’s sunny Abrolhos Islands.

They visit once a year to clean up the mess left by tourists and fishermen over the decades.

“To me they are unique islands in this part of the world, they’re coral islands, they’re well south of the usual position and it seems to be sacrilege to let them deteriorate,” Mr Hanrahan said.

“I think we all have a responsibility to look after these islands and part of looking after them, in my view, is cleaning up the refuse.

“What I’d like to see is other people take up the cause as it were and say ‘yes all right, we can do a little bit’.”

Migratory shore birds on 80 Mile Beach in Western Australia. Photo:  Matt Brann, ABC

Migratory shore birds on 80 Mile Beach in Western Australia. Photo: Matt Brann, ABC

Apr 052014

By Greg Wallis (pseudechis) at YouTube

Barramundi Creek is a major tributary of the South Alligator River in Kakadu National Park. Where it flows off the rocky Arnhem Land escarpment into Barramundi Gorge it is home to a wide variety of freshwater fishes and is an important refuge area for them and other wildlife during the Dry Season months.

The video follows a walk from the carpark up to the plunge pool and explores some of the underwater habitats and their occupants along the way. There are several points where you can stop and watch fish and take in the beautiful surrounds.

Maguk is far more than just a waterfall and a nice place to swim; take some time to soak up the atmosphere, bird calls and the other local wildlife.

If you are swimming please remember this is home to all these animals so go easy on the suncream and insect repellants — better still, swim with a shirt on rather then use suncream. Crocodiles do frequent the area, and National Parks have a policy or removing Saltwater or Estuarine Crocodiles from here and nearby areas but there is no 100% guarantee — you always swim at your own risk. Freshwater or Johnstone River Crocodiles make their home in the area and are best not approached too closely.

The creek is spring fed up in the rocky escarpment and runs throughout the year — from raging floodwaters in the Wet Season months down to a light shower in the late Dry. The area is only accessible to vehicle based tourists during the Dry Season months and it’s always best to check with National Park Headquarters to see if the area is open before you visit.

The video shows a variety of fish that are commonly seen at the gorge, but it is far from being comprehensive.

Please note: Fishing is NOT allowed in this area or in most areas east of the Kakadu Highway (with a couple of exceptions). Because these waters remain throughout the year, they are a very important refuge for many species of fish. Many stick it out here during the Dry only to move downstream to breed on the floodplains during the Wet Season and then back to the refuges again for the Dry. There are plenty of places you can fish much further downstream in the big tidal rivers and floodplain billabongs.

Apr 042014

ABC NewsOriginal story by Rachel Carbonell, ABC News 

The Queensland Government is under fire from conservationists over the granting of new land clearing permits in the north of the state.

The Wilderness Society says weakening of vegetation management laws last year has led to large-scale clearing applications.

Campaigner Gavan McFadzean says the biggest example is a permit granted to Strathmore Station, a big cattle station in the gulf savannah country near Georgetown.

Queensland land clearing legislation, the Government says the legislation changes are part of its vision to expand Queensland's agricultural economy. Photo: ABC News

Queensland land clearing legislation, the Government says the legislation changes are part of its vision to expand Queensland’s agricultural economy. Photo: ABC News

“We’ve discovered through a tip-off that [land clearing] is now broadscale and at an alarming rate,” he said.

“One of the biggest examples of that we’ve discovered is in the Gilbert catchment at Strathmore, where an application for 30,000 hectares of clearing – that’s about 134 Brisbane CBDs of clearing – has been granted.”

Mr McFadzean says the legislative amendments are undermining the land clearing legislation introduced in Queensland nearly 20 years ago.

“During the 1980s and 1990s Queensland was clearing at an alarming rate, it was actually an emerging environmental crisis,” he said.

“If Queensland was a country, in the early 90s it would have been one of the worst land clearers in the world, on par with Brazil, the Congo Basin, Borneo and Indonesia.

“It was through the 1996 native Vegetation Act introduced by the Beattie government that land clearing was brought under control.”

Queensland Minister for Natural Resources and Mines Andrew Cripps says the legislation changes are part of the Government’s vision to expand the state’s agricultural economy.

“What the amendments to the vegetation framework that the Queensland Parliament passed last year are doing is providing opportunities for the sustainable expansion of agriculture in Queensland,” he said.

“The Queensland Government went to the last state election with a commitment to build a four pillar economy here in this state and that included agriculture, and we’re changing the regulatory environment to provide for those opportunities.”

Mr Cripps says it is this kind of agricultural development the Queensland Government is keen to support.

“I think the opportunities for Strathmore Station to undertake an expansion of their existing grazing enterprise by taking into account some cropping agriculture on their property, is a great example of the opportunity that the Queensland Government is providing to grow sustainable communities in Cape York Peninsula,” he said.

“Strathmore Station is in fact growing sorghum at the moment under the high value agriculture framework to improve the sustainability of the existing grazing operations, and I think that is going to be a tremendous thing for communities in Cape York Peninsula.”

Land clearing will create opportunities, says station owner

Strathmore Station owner Scott Harris says his permit to clear 28,000 hectares is aimed at improving the environmental health of the land, as well as making it more productive.

He says it will be done in an environmentally sensitive manner.

“The environmental aspects of Strathmore Station, the land there, historically has been very degraded,” he said.

“It is chock-a-block full of weeds, rubber vine, there’s feral animals there.

“This is more about not clearing pristine wilderness that everyone thinks this is about, trying to return the environment back to somewhere like before white man settled there.”

Mr Harris says the application is part of a plan to expand his operation, that will create up to 200 jobs, and economic opportunities for others in the region, including Indigenous communities further north.

“With it there is a big opportunity for the landholders in Cape York to be able to become a person that can purchase cattle, which is a great help to the Indigenous communities up there, because at the moment they’re quite hamstrung in the respect that they’ve got nowhere to sell their cattle.”

But Mr McFadzean questions the economic argument behind the proposal.

“The so-called high value agriculture that’s allowed at Strathmore is for fodder cropping which even the CSIRO has stated, earlier this year in its report, would only be viable in two to three years out of every 10,” he said.

“So if the bar is set so low for high value agriculture agriculture in Queensland, we’re very concerned that rampant land clearing will return to this state.”

He says there is no public scrutiny of permit applications or approvals.

“We fall on those incidents of land clearing by accident but god only knows how much land clearing is happening in Queensland, and at an increasing rate, and that’s what we’re extremely concerned about.”

The Queensland Government says all applications for land clearing must meet strict environmental and economic criteria.

Apr 022014
Back From the Brink: Issue 6Back from the brink is a periodical publication produced by EHP’s (the Department of Environment and Heitage Protection) Threatened Species Unit.

The publication provides information about what is happening in threatened species recovery around Queensland.

In this issue

  • Concern for Raine Island turtles
  • Counting koalas and creating habitat in South East Queensland
  • Family fun day at Daisy Hill
  • Woongarra Coast turtle conservation work
  • Keeping track of flatback turtles
  • Spring has sprung: launch of a new species database
  • Summer loving: monitoring little tern breeding success
  • Science or Art? A jump in the mistfrog population
  • Find your calling: the search for the rufous scrub-bird
  • Forestry and threatened species: guiding practices for species conservation


Mar 242014

Original story by Jeanavive McGregor and Jake Sturmer, ABC News

The latest United Nations report card on the impacts of climate change predicts Australia will continue to get hotter.

Sunset over Adelaide. Scientists believe the world is still on track to become more than two degrees Celsius warmer. Photo: Ching-Ling Lim

Sunset over Adelaide. Scientists believe the world is still on track to become more than two degrees Celsius warmer. Photo: Ching-Ling Lim

The ABC has obtained drafts of the report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Scientists believe the world is still on track to become more than two degrees Celsius warmer – and that potentially means whole ecosystems could be wiped out.

Chapter 25 of the IPCC’s report has identified eight potential risks for Australia:

  • The possibility of widespread and permanent damage to coral reef systems – particularly the Great Barrier Reef and Ningaloo in Western Australia.
  • Some native species could be wiped out.
  • The chance of more frequent flooding causing damage to key infrastructure.
  • In some areas, unprecedented rising sea levels could inundate low-lying areas.
  • While in others, bushfires could result in significant economic losses.
  • More frequent heatwaves and temperatures may lead to increased morbidity – especially among the elderly.
  • And those same rising temperatures could put constraints on water resources.
  • Farmers also could face significant drops in agriculture – especially in the Murray-Darling Basin.

Worst-case scenario could see 40 per cent drop in production

The report said the worst-case scenario for the Murray-Darling Basin, south-east and south-west Australia would mean a significant drop in agricultural production.

The rigorous report process

The upcoming report includes 310 lead authors from 73 different nationalities.

Australian scientists are heavily involved as authors and reviewers of the Working Group reports.

Lesley Hughes, the lead author of the paper on Australasia, says Australia “punches above its weight”.

“We are disproportionately a larger group than you might otherwise think based on our population in the IPCC authorship team,” she said.

“We have a lot of scientists working on climate change issues and that is because we see Australia as being particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.”

The reports take up to five years to produce, undergoing a rigorous review process.

For example, 48,000 review comments were received on the upcoming report.

Professor Hughes says the process is not really a matter of achieving consensus, but rather is about evaluating the evidence.

The Australasia chapter alone has 1,000 references.

“They are certainly the largest reports ever produced on climate change and its associated risks but I think probably some of the most careful documents put together anywhere,” she said.

“I rather naively thought that eight people and 25 pages to write, how long can it possibly take to write three-and-a-bit pages?

“The answer to that is about three years. There is much discussion about the weight of evidence so it’s a very long, detailed and careful process.”

CSIRO chief research scientist Mark Howden said the latest science predicts production could drop by up to 40 per cent under a severe drying scenario.

“At current rates of emissions, we are likely to go past two degrees,” Dr Howden said.

“There are various analyses that indicate it’s highly unlikely that we’ll stay below two degrees in the absence of major activities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“The longer we delay activities to reduce those … emissions, the more likely it is we’re going to go above two degrees.

“Higher degrees of temperature change also carry with them higher degrees of rainfall change, both in terms of their average rainfall and likely increases in rainfall intensity.

“Both of those have implications for agriculture and both of those aren’t necessarily good.”

Despite forecasts of less rain and hotter temperatures, irrigators maintain they have a central role to play in the nation’s future.

“That is why you have irrigation. It evens out those severe weather events such as a drier climate,” National Irrigators Council chief executive officer Tom Chesson said.

“People forget that Australia is so far ahead when it comes to water management. We are the cutting edge of water management in the world.

“It would be a [mistake] to think that we have been sitting on our hands and doing nothing. Necessity is the mother of all invention.”

Concerns about future of coral reefs

The final draft of the Australasia chapter raises serious concerns about the future of the the nation’s coral, finding there is likely to be “significant change in community composition and structure of coral reef systems in Australia”.

University of Queensland marine scientist Ove Hoegh-Guldberg says there are already concerns about the rate of change.

“We’re seeing changes which haven’t been seen since the dinosaurs,” Professor Hoegh-Guldberg said.

“If we continue on this pathway, corals continue to plummet and places like the Great Barrier Reef may no longer be great.

“If we keep on doing on what we’re doing – and that’s ramping up local and global stressors – coral reefs will disappear by the middle of this century or be in very low amounts on reefs around the world.”

Ocean temperatures continue to rise

Three years ago during a plenary session in Venice, the member nations of the IPCC resolved for the first time to include a separate chapter on oceans for the Working Group II report.

Oceans cover 71 per cent of the planet’s surface and changes to the ocean’s environment are playing a central role in the management of climate change.

Scientists agree that the ocean’s surface temperatures have continued to increase throughout the 20th century and into the 21st.

IPCC drafts indicate the Indian, Atlantic and Pacific oceans have warmed by as much as half a degree, which has profoundly altered marine ecosystems.

Rising water temperatures and some levels of ocean acidification mean species are on the move.

Changed migratory patterns of fish and other catch pose significant risks to commercial fishers and other coastal activities.

Sea urchins once found only as far south as New South Wales have made their way to Tasmania.

The CSIRO’s Elvira Poloczanska said the urchins could destroy kelp forests, which had flow-on effects for rock lobsters.

“Kelp forests, much like forests on land, provide a habitat for a huge number of species,” Dr Poloczanska said.

“So a number of fish, vertebrates – including commercial species such as the rock lobster.

“As the forests disappear, so these species will disappear from the particular area as well.”

But interestingly, scientists do see some benefits and opportunities for some commercial fishing and other aquaculture industries in line with these changing patterns.

Despite progress being made on mitigation and adaptation measures, land management practices including pollution, nutrient run-off and overuse of marine resources also pose risks to marine life.

The report calls for internationally recognised guidelines to assist adaptation strategies already in place.

The report is due to be released on March 31.

Mar 202014

News release from Fisheries Queensland

The illegal destruction of mangroves on the foreshore at Lota on Brisbane’s southside is likely to have impacts on local fish and crab populations.

Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol district manager Brett Depper said recent reports of deliberate poisoning and cutting of mangroves at Lota were being investigated.

“Several mangroves on the seaward edge of this community have evidence of die back,” Mr Depper said.

“We are urging anyone with information to contact the Fishwatch hotline on 1800 017 116.”

Mr Depper said that this is not the first time this type of mangrove destruction has happened in the area.

“This is an ongoing problem and it is obvious that whoever is responsible for killing these plants has no respect for this vital community resource and no idea of the mangroves’ value to the local environment,” he said.

“If mangroves continue to be needlessly destroyed there will certainly be significant impacts on the precious resources of Moreton Bay.

“Any loss of mangroves like these will have a flow-on effect to the fish and crab populations they support.

“Healthy tidal fish habitats are not only important to the animals that live in or migrate through the bay, they also support important community activities such as fishing and help protect from erosion.”

Mr Depper said anyone caught destroying mangroves or marine plants will face heavy fines.

“Fines of up to $330,000 can be imposed for the destruction of marine plants,” he said.

“Marine plants including all mangroves, seagrass and saltmarsh species are protected by the Queensland Fisheries Act 1994 and prior approval is required for any works or activities that could disturb, destroy or damage them.

“This protection applies to all marine plants on private, leasehold and public lands and it doesn’t matter if these plants are deemed to be alive or dead.”

For more information on mangroves, visit or call 13 25 23. Follow Fisheries Queensland on Facebook and Twitter (@FisheriesQld).

Mar 142014

Original story by Ross Kay, ABC Wide Bay

As the muddy waters of the mighty Mary flow past the town of Tiaro, in the cool of the night a Mary River turtle comes ashore to lay a clutch of eggs.

At the same time computer screens shine blue in the night, as people from across the world click and donate to protect future generations of the turtle make sure the turtle’s eggs hatch safely.

A wild Mary River turtle (Elusor macrurus) hatchling. Photo: Tiaro Landcare

A wild Mary River turtle (Elusor macrurus) hatchling. Photo: Tiaro Landcare

The eggs face challenges before they even hatch, predators like goannas and foxes are on the lookout for a quick snack, and cattle can mistakenly stomp on the nest on their way for a drink.

A group of dedicated volunteers at Tiaro Landcare are working to fence and protect the eggs so they can hatch safely, and thanks to a new crowd-funding campaign can continue to keep protecting the eggs of this endangered species.

“Wildlife Queensland obviously is very keen on protecting our endangered wildlife, and we’ve changed our fundraising strategies in recent times,” said Des Boyland, policies and campaigns manager for the Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland.

“What we’re doing instead of going on a general appeal to raise funds… we are actually focusing on certain endangered or threatened species.

“Our next focus is the Mary River turtle; we chose it because of the good work that Tiaro Landcare people have been doing already.

“Tiaro Landcare people have got it down to a fine art so we’re partnering with them, and handing the money over to them so they can go out and protect nests.”

The Mary River turtle project has been in operation since 2001, and Marilyn Connell, the project leader, says the ultimate goal is rebuilding the population.

“We have a conservation program where some of our members go out during the nesting season and protect wild-laid clutches of eggs,” she said.

“We protect them from predators, we do some fox baiting, we do some fencing to try and keep cattle and other creatures off the nesting banks.

“Our goal is to protect it so that we can increase the number of turtles and hatchlings that are successfully getting into the river.

“You’ve got to look for tracks and signs on the riverbank and follow your nose really. And you’ve got to do it early before the goannas or other critters get there before you, so we’ve got to get up quite early in the morning.”

The turtle eggs are about 35mm long and 21 mm wide, with the average clutch holding on average about 15 eggs.

Marilyn says the actual numbers of the turtle is difficult to calculate due to the nature of the Mary River itself.

“Looking for creatures in the river isn’t as easy as it seems, it’s the muddy Mary,” she said.

“What we do know is the number of nesting females over the time we’ve been working are staying about the same. Obviously there are variations according to weather conditions, but we’re not noticing a massive decline.”

The goal in the crowd-funding project is to raise $30,000, and Wildlife Queensland is hoping this will be a sustainable model for fundraising in the future.

“We’ll be endeavouring to run four appeals a year,” Des said.

“The big advantage of using the crowd funding, although we’ve got something like five and a half thousand supporters, a lot of the contributions come from people outside our traditional supporter base.”

As for Marilyn and the Tiaro Landcare team, they will continue working to keep this endangered species from extinction.

“Fingers crossed the campaign works really well,” Marilyn said.