Durrell mark milestone release of 100th Critically Endangered ploughshare tortoise into the wild
Today Durrell is delighted to announce the latest success in their 28-year journey of saving one of the worlds rarest tortoises from extinction.
The golden-domed ploughshare tortoise, the most threatened tortoise on the planet, exists only at a single remote site in Madagascar.
Last week a team from the world renowned conservation charity made a gruelling two day 150km journey to Beaboaly in Madagascar; where along with local dignitaries, schoolchildren and representatives from partner conservation agencies, they celebrated the release into the wild of 20 captive bred ploughshare tortoises (Astrochelys yniphora). With this release they have reached a major milestone and a goal that was set over ten years ago – to put 100 animals back into the wild.
Richard Lewis, Durrell’s Madagascar Programme Director said, “For me personally this was the fruition of ten years hard work. When Durrell first proposed the idea of releasing ploughshares, many experts said that it couldn’t be done. We had to make the rule book ourselves, and to-date this release is still one of the few successful tortoise reintroduction projects in the world.
When Durrell started working in Madagascar in 1986, the ploughshare tortoise was on the brink of extinction, decades of uncontrolled burning had decimated its habitat. There have been a number of challenges and setbacks in the project. Just when the team thought that they were on the verge of successfully changing the species population trend, the black market value of the ploughshare’s stunning golden shell rocketed, leading to a renewed pressure on the tortoise from illegal wildlife smugglers. Now the scale of poaching threatens the future existence of the species and conservation efforts are focussing on anti-poaching, law enforcement and capacity-building.
Despite the fantastic achievements to date and this, the latest positive step in Durrell’s ongoing ploughshare programme, the species remains dangerously close to extinction. Without Durrell’s efforts over the last three decades the world could very possibly have lost the ploughshare tortoise, already.
For more information on the ploughshare tortoise and the proof of how Durrell saves species from extinction please visit www.durrell.org/ploughshare
Posted 3 February 2015