Saving Madagascar’s Ploughshare Tortoise

 AMPIJOROA, MADAGASCAR - DECEMBER 8: Armed guards secure the fenced tortoise breeding center at Ankarafantsika national park. The center houses many Angonoka (plowshare) tortoises, a critically endangered species of tortoise endemic to Madagascar January 8, 2012 in Ampijoroa, Madagascar. The Angonoka (plowshare) tortoise is a critically endangered species of tortoise endemic to Madagascar. (Photo by Jonathan Torgovnik/Reportage by Getty Images)

The Ploughshare Tortoise (Astrochelys yniphora) is the most endangered tortoise in the world. With wild populations on the brink of extinction, it has become clear to the conservation community that action must be scaled up substantially if we hope to save this species. In range conservation in Madagascar is still the preferred route, as only two recorded captive breedings outside of Madagascar have ever been verified. 

At the Turtle Conservancy, we are working closely with our partners at Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust to ramp up security for the last wild population of Ploughshare Tortoises. Armed guards, razor wire and hidden cameras are just some of the practical measures needed to deter and prevent poaching. Elsewhere, we are looking to create new breeding colonies to help reduce overcrowding and theft concerns in the one currently successful breeding facility. Lastly, we work to try and bolster captive populations out of country, by identifying animals already being trafficked through Tanzania, the Comoros, and Southeast Asia. We foster international cooperation to seize these animals and add them to breeding groups for future reintroductions. 

We ask our followers to please contact us if you ever see Ploughshare Tortoises openly being traded or in captive situations outside of Madagascar that do not look legitimate. If you do, please email us with your name, location and any photo evidence. Thank you!