The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust Grantee Brings Star Tortoise Back From Extinction
YANGON, MYANMAR (October 11, 2017) – The Burmese star tortoise (Geochelone platynota), a medium-sized tortoise found only in Myanmar’s central dry zone, has been brought back from the brink of extinction thanks to an aggressive captive-breeding effort spearheaded by a team of conservationists and government partners.
Efforts to restore the tortoise are described in the latest issue of the peer-reviewed journal Herpetological Review.
The tortoises now number over 14,000 individuals, up from an estimated population of just a few hundred animals in the early 2000s. Burgeoning demand from wildlife markets in southern China beginning in the mid-1990s virtually wiped out the tortoise in a matter of years until viable populations could no longer be found, and the species was considered ecologically extinct.
In 2004, The Nature and Wildlife Conservation Division of the Myanmar Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation in collaboration with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)/Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA) Myanmar Program established three “assurance colonies” to hedge against the extinction of wild populations. The three colonies began with an estimated 175 individuals, mostly confiscated from illegal wildlife traffickers...