Sea turtles are slow growing, long lived species and can take up to 50 years before they even start breeding! For this reason the impacts of high levels of feral pig predation on turtle nests is not immediately noticeable. But turtles on western Cape York are in serious decline and could face extinction within 20 years!
The key to protecting sea turtles on western Cape York is in establishing sustainable and long term conservation programs. Until wide scale feral pig control technology is designed, short term programs have limited success and can waste significant resources.
The focus of the project is to develop long-term conservation strategies that are sustainable. Western Cape York is a remote coastline stretching more than 700kms and therefore developing programs across the various communities is essential. By training Indigenous Rangers, it not only provides a key on-ground resource but also establishes local ongoing protection programs.
The monitoring component of the program is aimed at collecting data to understand the status of the turtle populations and to determine the effectiveness of various control programs. This includes establishing index beaches and undertaking standardized surveys along the coast. This data is important for developing targeted and cost-effective management strategies. Control of feral pigs needs to be established as an annual program and needs to have the best bang for the buck!