The weekend brought great news to conservation organisation Aussie Ark as one of their female Manning River turtles laid a clutch of 20 eggs at the Australian Reptile Park.
These are the first eggs laid in captivity from a Manning River turtle in the not-for-profit organisation's insurance population of the endangered species.
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Earlier this year Aussie Ark staff alongside president Tim Faulkner, collected the first Manning River turtles to begin the development of the insurance population. These eggs are a result of that collection.
The eggs have been placed in an incubator to give them the best possible chance at hatching.
Keepers are optimistic they will have juvenile Manning River turtles in less than two months.
"Manning River turtles are so important to our waterways, as they act as nature's vacuums. This clutch of eggs brings a new wave of hope for the species and its survival," Aussie Ark president Tim Faulkner said.
"We can expect that in approximately 40 days we will have baby Manning River turtles to release back into the wild. It's pretty special."
We can expect that in approximately 40 days we will have baby Manning River turtles to release back into the wild. It's pretty special.- Tim Faulkner, Aussie Ark president
The laying of these eggs follows the collection of a clutch found in the wild on a property on the Manning River earlier this year. That clutch was relocated to the Australian Reptile Park for incubation as the eggs were at risk of predation and flooding.
Manning River turtles nests are laid a few weeks after the first good rains in spring. The crippling drought experienced in the Upper Hunter and the Mid Coast has delayed nesting until now.
Nests are normally about 30cm in diameter and are made in sandy gravel beds close to water, often on the inside of river bends.
Nests face predation from foxes and pigs, as well as run the risk of being trampled by grazing cattle.
Aussie Ark urges the community to protect nest sites from livestock by fencing sensitive waterway areas and removing weeds along gravel banks where these species prefer to build nests.
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The community can support Aussie Ark's Manning River turtle project by heading to aussieark.org.au.
Aussie Ark is grateful to have the support of the New South Wales government in the facilitation of this project. As well as the community and project partners who made the project a reality.
For more information on the Manning River helmeted turtle visit www.manningriverturtle.org.
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