In January 2011 many of the lakes on Perth's coastal plain were either dry or almost so. A mass exodus of Western Long Neck Turtles (Chelodina oblonga) from a small suburban lake prompted an unprecedented rescue effort.
The large numbers of turtles lost through dehydration, starvation and road trauma as a result of this single event brings home just how quickly an animal which is now considered common might become vulnerable. Over 100 turtles were saved from one small lake, and in the process valuable information was gained about dealing with a mass rescue. The experience gained then will benefit future rescuers and improve their response to subsequent events which, given the problems of our drying climate, are expected to become a regular occurrence in the future
Historically, very few turtles were received into care and those which were admitted were invariably trauma cases or found hatchlings; dealing with a large number of debilitated animals was something for which no-one was prepared, or equipped to deal with.
TORRN was formed to address the lack of knowledge about these wild turtles and to consolidate rescue and rehabilitation efforts. The Network has a strong veterinary focus and plans to provide community information along with training for both rehabilitators and members of the veterinary profession.