“There are only about 400 ploughshare tortoises left in the wild. One man was caught trying to smuggle 54 of them.
Thai authorities recently arrested a 38-year-old man who was carrying a bag containing 54 ploughshare tortoises (Astrochelys yniphora) and 21 radiated tortoises (Astrochelys radiata), reports mongabay.com. Though both species are endangered, the ploughshare tortoise is a species truly on the edge. Experts estimate that only about 400 still survive in the wild, making it one of the rarest land tortoises in the world. The 54 tortoises found in the smuggler’s bag therefore represent 13 percent of the species’ entire population.
The ploughshare tortoise is classified as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List. The species’ entire population is found within a 25 to 60 square kilometer range around Baly Bay in northwestern Madagascar. The range consists mostly of dry forest and savanna, conditions much different than the humid weather prevalent in Thailand where the smuggled animals were confiscated. The rarity of the species has increased their value on the illegal pet trade; They are also prized for their uniquely designed shells.”
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