A CRITICALLY endangered western swamp tortoise seized by wildlife offices in a police raid on a Gidgegannup property in August has been returned to its natural habitat.
Environment Minister Albert Jacob said the tortoise was one of about 50 adult western swamp tortoises living in the wild.
“The survival and recovery of this particular western swamp tortoise is remarkable,” Mr Jacob said.
“This adult male was bred at Perth Zoo in 1991, released into Twin Swamps Nature Reserve at Bullsbrook in 1994 and tracked until its disappearance in 2010.
“Six years later, and after health checks and a period of quarantine at Perth Zoo, this tortoise has returned to the wild at the same reserve.”
The minister said the western swamp tortoise was the most endangered Australian reptile and it was illegal to keep the animal captive.
Under the new Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016, there are tougher penalties for offences involving threatened species.
A person found in possession of, or attempting to smuggle a critically endangered species will face a maximum fine of $500,000, rising to $2.5 million for a corporation.
“These strong new laws and effective penalties will help deter future wildlife crimes and provide much greater protection for the state’s native animals, particularly threatened species,” Mr Jacob said.
The Department of Parks and Wildlife was able to identify the tortoise by its markings as number 228.
It was among the first batch of 10 captive-bred juvenile western swamp tortoises bred at Perth Zoo and released into the wild.