By James A. Foley
Two critically engendered tortoise species from Madagascar are facing even greater risk because of illegal animal trafficking, according to a statement by the Wildlife Conservation Society, which said that poaching of the animals is "raging out of control."
In the first three months of this year, more than 1,000 radiated and ploughshare tortoises have been confiscated from smugglers, the WCS said.
The radiated tortoise is prized as exotic pets as well as culinary delicacies. In Bangkok's Chatuchak wildlife market the radiated tortoise is the most common tortoise for sale, the WCS reported.
Of the 1,000 recent seizures, 54 of the confiscated ploughshare tortoises were reclaimed in Bangkok in what Eric Goode, founder of the Turtle Conservancy, said was the largest single seizure of ploughshare tortoises in history . The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) reports the ploughshare tortoise to be the rarest and most threatened tortoise species in the world.
WWF along with six other NGOs published an open letter in April calling on the Malagasy authorities to "act as a matter of urgency."
According to a WWF report, the letter states, "As flagship species for unique ecosystems, these tortoises are an integral part of Madagascar's world-renowned biodiversity and natural heritage."
"Losing these fascinating creatures, who have survived for millions of years, just for the profits of a handful of traders would be an irremediable disaster for conservation in Madagascar and embarrassing, even shameful for the Malagasy people as a whole, starting with its leaders." More....