The Mary River freshwater turtle (Elusor macrurus) is one of the most uniquely Australian and critically endangered turtles, living only in south east Queensland’s Mary River. Forty years ago, Mary River turtles were sold as ‘penny turtles’ through the pet trade, hatching just in time for Christmas. Twenty six years ago, this turtle was finally scientifically described. Ten years ago, the Australian government ruled against the Queensland government proposal to dam the river, which would have exterminated this species. Now, Queensland’s Tiaro and District Landcare volunteers monitor Mary River turtle nest sites, protecting them from extreme weather and predation, while the Mary River catchment group look after the health of the river system, the only home that this endangered turtle has, giving it a better chance of survival.
Occasionally, a nation has an opportunity to improve the regulation of pesticides. The Australian government gave itself that opportunity and the result will put profit and easier access to chemicals before human, animal and environmental health. What is at stake, and why is this such a lost opportunity?