The Critically Endangered ploughshare tortoise is endemic to Madagascar, with a known range potentially as small as 25 km2! This large and attractive tortoise is one of the rarest tortoises on the planet.
Following historical declines due to hunting for consumption and the impacts of habitat burning, which left fewer than 1,000 individuals remaining, this species has suffered huge population declines in recent years due to collection for the international pet trade.
Current estimates suggest there may be as few as 200 mature individuals remaining in the wild. Given the observed confiscation numbers of collected individuals, it is almost certain this species will become extinct in the next generation (40-50 years) should the threats persist.
This species is listed on CITES Appendix I and is protected under Malagasy legislation. Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust established a key conservation programme for the ploughshare tortoise in 1986 and, in December 2005, a captive breeding programme had 224 juveniles from 17 founder adults.
- Order: Testudines
- Family: Testudinidae
- Population: 440-770
- Trend: decreasing
- Size: 30-48cm (?)
- Weight: 7.2-18.9kg
This species is found in Madagascar around Baly Bay.
Habitat and Ecology
This species utilise bamboo-scrub habitat, which consists of a mosaic of shrubs, bamboo, savanna grasses and open, non-vegetated areas. Tortoises have been observed to feed upon herbs, forbs and shrubs. They reach a sexual maturity at 15 years old.