SPECIES: Pseudemydura umbrina — Western Swamp Tortoise

CLASSIFICATION: Critically endangered

The situation is dire for the critically endangered Western Swamp Tortoise, there's probably no more than 200 left on the planet. This prehistoric piece of nature is now the most endangered reptile in Australia. Australia's smallest tortoise, this is a species that can live up to 100 years. As the name suggests, the Western Swamp Tortoise is a bit partial to a swamp and spends much of its time in the water during winter and spring. Once it gets warmer, it will dig a hole underground or burrow in leaf litter to escape the heat. It's a short-necked tortorise with a browny/blacky shell and a unmistakeable spikey neck that looks a bit like armour. Now, you'd have to be pretty lucky to come across one in the wild, as there is just one surviving wild population.

Predation by foxes and destruction of habitat are the major threats to the Western Swamp Tortoise. Captive breeding has been done in recent years to help boost numbers of the species, but will this be enough to save it from extinction? We can only hope the Western Swamp Tortoise can keep hanging on...

Picture: By Jett Newman (age 7)

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