Help save the Manning River helmeted turtle

By AG STAFF 20 May 2019
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Donate now to save this gorgeous and endangered turtle

The Manning River helmeted turtle was declared an endangered species in 2017, when the rapid decline of populations rang alarm bells among scientists and herpetologists.

Population surveys have been and are continuing to be conducted by the NSW Government, as the engaging little reptile is listed as ‘data deficient’ under the Saving our Species program – meaning not enough is known about them.

Plans are underway and facilities under construction for a breeding program of an insurance population at the Australian Reptile Park, in partnership with Aussie Ark. The program is very similar to that at Taronga Zoo and Symbio Wildlife Park for the turtles’ ‘cousin’, the Bellinger River snapping turtle.

The Manning River Turtle Conservation Group is working with Save Our Species Program, the Australian Reptile Park and Aussie Ark, and other stakeholders, to help save the Manning River helmeted turtle.

Please donate today to support efforts to conserve this important species.


  • The Manning River helmeted turtle is a ‘living fossil’ – the species is around 55 million years old.
  • The Manning River helmeted turtle is a ‘bum breather’ – it has the ability to breathe through blood vessels in its cloaca (anus).
  • It is a very shy turtle and spends much of the winter underwater.
  • The Manning River helmeted turtle is widely considered Australia’s most beautiful turtle, and much sought after by turtle enthusiasts.
  • The biggest threats to these turtles are predation by foxes, illegal poaching, habitat degradation and disease.


The turtle is extremely rare. It is found only in one place in the world – in the upper and middle catchments of the Manning River on the Mid North Coast of NSW.

It prefers clear, fast-flowing waters that are upstream, with a rocky or sandy substrate (riverbed). It likes to hide in pools 2–3 metres deep.

It feeds mainly on small invertebrates that live at the bottom of the river, along with aquatic vegetation.


The Manning River Turtle Conservation Group has been working to raise awareness and educate the local community on the little-known turtle.

The group’s future plans to help save the turtle include potential citizen-science projects, such as Waterwatch.

To find nesting sites, the group is investigating employing sniffer dogs trained to sniff out turtle eggs to find the nests – a technique that is being used to help similarly endangered turtle species. Once nests are found, ideally motion-sensor cameras would be installed to monitor the nests. In addition, the group would like to supply nest protection kits to landholders with nesting sites.

Please donate today. Funds raised will help support the Manning River Turtle Conservation Group’s work in the conservation of the Manning River helmeted turtle.