A survey of two Bellingen turtles has found that one is more common than first thought while the other is very rare and is only found in the Bellinger and Kalang Rivers.
University of Canberra professor of ecology Arthur Georges said DNA collected from the Bellinger River Elseya and the Bellinger River Emydura had been tested, analysed and compared to other populations of turtles from coastal and inland Australia.
“An important outcome of the survey is confirmation that the Bellinger River Elseya (Elseya georgesi – named after Professor Georges) is found nowhere else in Australia but the Bellinger and Kalang Rivers,” Professor Georges said.
The survey concluded that any changes in water quality and habitat would greatly affect the turtles in the river and suggested recent conservation works carried out to improve water quality, riparian vegetation and reduce predation from foxes should continue.
Because the Bellinger River Elseya is only found in one area and has very specific habitat requirements, the survey will be handed to NSW Scientific Committee to consider naming the Elseya a ‘vulnerable species' and listing it under the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995.
NPWS pest management officer Brad Nesbitt said that it is important not to release unwanted turtles into the rivers or pick turtles off the road and move them to different catchment areas.
“If you find a turtle on the road, and it is safe to do so, turtles can be moved to the side of the road in the direction it was travelling”
Editor's Note: Original news release can be found here.