Ploughshare Tortoise Conservation
In Madagascar the Turtle Conservancy collaborates with Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust to protect the Ploughshare Tortoise (Astrochelys yniphora) from extinction. The Turtle Conservancy engages in the education of local communities and in animal marking to help reduce or even eliminate the illegal poaching of Ploughshare Tortoises. In addition, the Turtle Conservancy is a leading member of the International Ploughshare Tortoise Working Group, which sets the direction for Ploughshare Tortoise conservation worldwide.
The history of the Ploughshare Tortoise reads much like a Dashiell Hammett novel, except, unlike the desperately pursued Maltese Falcon, this tortoise is a critically endangered species and not a figment of the imagination. It is a tragic story of habitat degradation, and a dark, sordid tale of international smuggling, manhunts, imprisonment, and even murder. Recent books such as Bryan Christy’s The Lizard King and Jennie Eric Smith’s Stolen World document the spectacular intrigues surrounding this species, as well as the larger clandestine endangered species trade in general.
About this Program
The Ploughshare Tortoise today has the dubious distinction of being not only one of the rarest cold blooded animals on earth but the most sought after by unscrupulous collectors, commanding prices ranging from a few thousand dollars for juveniles to tens of thousands for adults. Saving this species is truly a global problem and a two-front war. The immediate goals are to stop poaching and to reclaim animals from illegal collections and place them in accredited captive breeding programs.