(Image: Jarrad Prangell from Symbio Wildlife Park holds a Bellinger River Snapping Turtle)
Four summers ago, death swept through the small population of Bellinger River Snapping Turtles. Thankfully, the species wasn’t wiped out completely. But the virus that wrought devastation was aided and abetted by drought and diminishing food supply — the hallmarks of climate change. It’s a common story. Efforts are now underway to safeguard the turtle population against extinction. Here’s the story, from the Summer 2019 issue of Cosmos:
It was a warm February evening in 2015 and Sydney’s Taronga Zoo had emptied of visitors for the day. But behind closed gates, Karrie Rose and her team were gearing up for a long night. Their task: to find out what was killing the rare Bellinger River snapping turtle (Myuchelys georgesi).
Two days earlier, the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) had launched an investigation following reports from kayakers of sick and dead turtles. Whatever had turned their home, five hours’ drive north of Sydney, into a killing field looked like it could push the species to extinction in a matter of weeks.