The Friends of the Western Swamp Tortoise has been successful in obtaining a Lotterywest grant, presented to members of the group at the Ellen Brook Reserve by Swan MLA, Jaye Radisich. The money is for display materials to enhance our ability to make the general public aware of the plight of the Western Swamp Tortoise.
With the purchase of a portable display board, and the production of some of the photos taken by our talented members, we will soon have a static display which can be erected at Libraries, Schools, Community Centres and special events. A user-friendly brochure will also be produced to ensure any members who are interested in joining us have contact details easily available. The grant will also allow us to upgrade our website.
I was privileged to visit a class of dedicated environmentalists at Ellenbrook Primary School for Threatened Species Day. Together with their teacher, Vicki Brockhoff, they had been learning about the Western Swamp Tortoise, and were delighted to see our photos of the animals and compare them with the web sites they’d been accessing.
The ten minute talk turned into an hour as they asked questions and provided their insights. As residents of the Ellenbrook Catchment, they were keen to know what they could do personally to ensure the safety of the tortoise, and we discussed some of the drainage issues of the area.
They loved the game of Threatened Species Bingo we played, and blitzed the Interactive Crossword, shouting out the answers before the clue was even completed.
It was wonderful to see the passion these young people displayed for such an important subject,and congratulations must go to their teacher for helping them understand the issues facing the Western Swamp Tortoise.
The remaining habitat of the Western Swamp Tortoise got a boost in April with the addition of 7 hectares to the 67 hectare Ellen Brook Nature Reserve. The additions combined land transferred by the Midland Brick Company, the closing of a section of unmade road and the purchase of a small parcel of private land.
Department of Environment and Conservation staff have fenced off the new area. FoWST assisted with the planting of trees in June to rehabilitate the new areas. Ellen Brook represents the best remaining habitat for the Western Swamp Tortoise. The extension of the reserve will allow more tortoises from the captive breeding program at Perth Zoo to be reintroduced into the wild, and allow the species to breed in greater numbers.