CONSERVATION TALKS: Tiaro Landcare Group leader Marilyn Connell meets Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan following a lecture
CONSERVATION TALKS: Tiaro Landcare Group leader Marilyn Connell meets Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan following a lecture "For the love of Nature, Innovation in Philanthropy" at the Palace in Abu Dhabi. Contributed

How our punk turtle connects Tiaro and Arabian royalty

QUEENSLAND'S punk Mary River turtle has continued to make international headlines, being one of the central topics at an Arabian conservation lecture.

Tiaro Landcare Group leader Marilyn Connell, who has pioneered conservation efforts into protecting the endangered turtle, was one of three honoured guests invited to the conservation event 'For the Love of Nature: Innovative Philanthropy for Species Conservation Worldwide'.

GALLERY: TURTLES OF THE MARY VALLEY

The event was hosted by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.

Ms Connell was joined by Caleb Ofori, who protects the Togo slippery frog, found in a stream in Ghana, and Dimitry Dorofeev, who bands migrating birds in the Kamchatka Peninsula in far-east Russia.

 

Mary River turtle most liekly washed out in the storms. Found on a beach at Uranagan and safely released into a fresh water pond.
Mary River Turtle, found washed out at Urangan beach. Karen Ingham

Razan Al Mubarak, secretary general of the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi, said Ms Connell's program was an example of a "boots-on-the-ground, get-your-hands-dirty conservation project endeavouring to save a species from extinction."

"Species conservation has been a priority of the crown prince and the UAE government," Ms Al Mubarak said.

"We in the UAE make a significant difference to preserve the life of threatened plants and animals not only at the local level but globally."

Ms Connell said it was "surreal" to be invited to the event.

"Australia is an isolated country that strongly guards its borders," she said.

"Yet here, an Arabian community, halfway around the globe, has reached out to our little community in Tiaro, in recognition that we share the one planet and can work together to protect it for future generations."

Interest in the conservation of the Mary River turtle has grown since it was placed on the Zoological Society of London Evolutionary Distinct and Globally Endangered (Edge) Reptiles list earlier this year.

The animal has become known for it's distinctive 'punk' look from the vertical strands of algae that crown its head, and its ability to breathe through its genitals.

Tiaro Landcare has received funding from the Mohammed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund which has contributed towards the turtle's conservation.