These turtles don't know it, but they will play a pivotal role in the survival of their species.
The first Manning River helmeted turtles to hatch at the Australian Reptile Park's breeding facility will soon be released into the wild.
The hatchlings are part of Aussie Ark's insurance population of the endangered species. They come from a combination of two clutches, which will ensure genetic diversity of the released turtles, while some will remain at the Reptile Park to further the breeding program.
Back in January 12 eggs were found in a nest on the banks of the Manning River by a landholder who protected them from foxes, feral cats and possible flooding before contacting Aussie Ark.
They were relocated to the breeding facility for incubation and the eggs started hatching on March 5, with 10 hatchlings surviving.
They have been kept and monitored at the Australian Reptile Park until they grew big enough to be released into the wild.
The first clutch of eggs to arrive at the purpose-built facility at the Reptile Park was augmented by a further 20 eggs in February with a clutch laid by an adult turtle captured during an emergency rescue mission a few days before Christmas 2019 because of drought and bushfires.
"A lot of work has gone into getting us to this point and the release will be a big step in the direction of securing the survival of the species," Australian Reptile Park keeper and Manning River turtle enthusiast, Daniel Rumsey said.
Prior to the release of the hatchlings into the Manning River, Aussie Ark, a not-for-profit conservation organisation, is seeking help from the public to continue working on saving the endangered species.
A donation of $10 will provide a microchip to identify a turtle, and $25 helps feed a turtle for one month. Other donations can help provide monitoring, field officers and nest site protection. To donate, click here.
The Aussie Ark Manning River turtle conservation breeding program is supported by Global Wildlife Conservation, the Turtle Conservancy, and the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.
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