By Matt Walker
Poachers are threatening the survival of the northern Madagascar spider tortoise, which only lives along a narrow strip of the island's coast.
The animal has disappeared from swathes of its habitat, taken by collectors to supply the exotic pet trade.
Wild numbers of the tortoise may have already fallen by 90%, say scientists who have just surveyed its population.
The problem continues to worsen due to political instability in the country, which makes it easier for smugglers.
The Madagascar spider tortoise is one of the smaller species of tortoise, and is distinguished by the intricate spider web patterning on the shells of adults. Hence its scientific name Pyxis arachnoides.
It occurs as three distinct subspecies, each of which has a slightly different shell shape and lives in a different part of the coastal spiny forests within southwest Madagascar.
However, the tortoise's appearance is also its downfall. More....