A unique environmental offset program established as part of Rio Tinto’s US$1.9 billion Amrun Project is returning positive results in protecting and preserving the region’s endangered and vulnerable turtles by eradicating a major turtle nest predator.
Feral pigs specifically male boars are destructive to the early life cycle of marine turtle species that nest on the beaches near the Amrun Project in northern Australia. One male boar is capable of destroying up to ten turtle nests in just one night. With each turtle nest able to hold anywhere between 40 and 60 eggs, this predator is having a devastating impact on the local turtle population.
Before the project’s feral pig management program began, up to 90 percent of turtle hatchlings were lost to feral boars. The project has set itself a target of achieving a 70 percent decrease in turtle nest destruction over three years, in a management program agreed to be implemented annually to 2063 for the life of the Amrun Mine.
The program includes aerial and ground-based shooting campaigns during peak turtle nesting periods and a year-long baiting program to support ongoing management of feral pig numbers. The management strategies are adaptive and used to safely and effectively eradicate the predators.
These activities are aimed at protecting and rebuilding the numbers of green, flatback, hawksbill and olive ridley turtle species.
A Land & Sea management program has also been implemented as part of the project, which supports the local Wik-Waya Traditional Owners on whose land the Amrun project is being built to learn about and manage the impact of feral pig populations on turtles on the country.