Western swamp tortoise (Pseudemydura umbrina) recovery plan

Western Australian Department of Environment and Conservation, 2010

Summary

Current Species Status: Threatened (WA Wildlife Conservation Act 1950), Critically Endangered (ranking by WA Threatened Species Scientific Committee), Critically Endangered (Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999), Critical (Action Plan for Australian Reptiles, 1993), Critically Endangered under IUCN (2001) Red List Criteria A2c and D, listed as Critically Endangered in the IUCN 2010 Red List of Threatened Species.

Habitat requirements and Limiting Factors: Pseudemydura umbrina inhabits shallow, ephemeral, winter-wet swamps on clay or sand-over-clay soils with nearby suitable aestivating refuges. Clearing and drainage have destroyed most original habitat within its very small former range. Existing protected habitat marginal.

Recovery Plan Objective: To decrease the chance of extinction of the Western Swamp Tortoise (WST) by creating at least three wild naturally recruiting populations, increasing the total number of mature individuals in the wild to more than 50 and conducting a translocation at a fourth site.

Recovery Criteria: Criteria for successful achievement of the Objective are:

  1. Complete extension of the Ellen Brook Nature Reserve to the west to include Western Swamp Tortoise habitat currently within private properties.
  2. An increase in the number of adult, sub-adult and juvenile (non-hatchling) tortoises at Ellen Brook Nature Reserve by 2012 and 2013 as indicated by Manly and Parr population estimates, to more than 110.
  3. Persistence of a population of more than 50 adult, sub-adult and juvenile tortoises at Twin Swamps Nature Reserve by 2012 and 2013 as indicated by Manly and Parr population estimates, and recruitment of non-hatchling juveniles demonstrated by 2014.
  4. Persistence of a population of more than 50 adult, sub-adult and juvenile tortoises at Mogumber Nature Reserve by
  5. 2012 and 2013 as indicated by Manly and Parr population estimates, and recruitment of non-hatchling juveniles from re-introduced tortoises demonstrated by 2014.
  6. The total number of adult wild Pseudemydura umbrina being >50 as indicated by KTBA numbers for 2011 and 2012.
  7. The maintenance of a captive population of an average of 12 breeding adults producing at least 20 two-year-old animals each year.
  8. The creation of a population from captive-bred animals at Moore River Nature Reserve of more than 50 adult, sub-adult and juvenile (>2 years old) tortoises by 2012 and 2013 as indicated by Manly and Parr population estimates.
  9. The selection by the recovery team and the endorsement by relevant authorities of a fifth suitable translocation site and the start of a trial translocation

The criteria for failure to achieve the objective are:

  1. A continuing decline in numbers of adult Western Swamp Tortoise in the wild.
  2. Cessation or significant reduction (to less than 20 hatchlings per year) in captive breeding.
  3. The maintenance of more than 50% of the non-hatchling world population of P. umbrina in a single captive colony.

Recovery Actions: The Western Swamp Tortoise Recovery Team will coordinate implementation of the following actions.

  1. Coordination and administration of recovery team and recovery program.
  2. Employment of Chief Investigator
  3. Management of Ellen Brook, Twin Swamps, Mogumber, and part of Moore River Nature Reserves
  4. Tortoise population monitoring
  5. Captive breeding
  6. Translocations
  7. Education, publicity and sponsorship.