Aus­tralian na­tive tur­tles face ma­jor road­kill threat

The Borneo Post (Sabah) - - WORLD -

SYD­NEY: Na­tive Aus­tralian tur­tles are end­ing up as road­kill dur­ing their Novem­ber nest­ing sea­son, with their severely de­clin­ing num­bers hav­ing sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on the ecosys­tem, China’s Xin­hua News Agency re­ported lo­cal me­dia as say­ing yes­ter­day.

The eastern long-necked and Mur­ray short-necked tur­tles, ma­jor species con­sid­ered un­der threat, leave the wa­ter­ways at yearend to nest and of­ten be­come road fa­tal­i­ties, the ABC news chan­nel re­ported.

“For the short-necked and the long-necked tur­tle, we’ve seen a pop­u­la­tion de­cline of 69 to 91 per cent,” South Aus­tralian wet­land project of­fi­cer Court­ney Monk was quoted as say­ing.

The low tur­tle pop­u­la­tions were con­cern­ing be­cause they played a cru­cial role in the ecosys­tem by keep­ing the wet­lands and rivers clean, she said.

Wildlife con­ser­va­tion group Tur­tles Aus­tralia’s pres­i­dent Gra­ham Stock­feld told the chan­nel the im­pact of road­kill on the an­i­mals was sig­nif­i­cant.

“If a fe­male tur­tle gets killed on the road that might be 30 or 40 years’ worth of eggs that have been lost,” he said.

Their re­search work found that fox preda­tors raid­ing tur­tle nests were also a con­sid­er­able threat, he added.

“We’ve ba­si­cally got, over the last two years, nearly 7,000 sight­ings and most of this sight­ing, about 90 per­cent, are from road­kill or dug up tur­tle nests from foxes,” said West­ern Syd­ney Uni­ver­sity ecol­o­gist Ricky Spencer about find­ings from a lo­cal re­search project on tur­tle sight­ings. — Ber­nama

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