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Madagascar's tortoises are crawling toward extinction, groups say
Date:2/7/2008

NEW YORK (FEBRUARY 7, 2008) Madagascars turtles and tortoises, which rank among the most endangered reptiles on earth, will continue to crawl steadily toward extinction unless major conservation measure are enacted, according to a recent assessment by the Wildlife Conservation Society and other groups.

The groups, which met for four days in Madagascars capital city Antananarivo, said there is still hope to save these ancient animals, but time is running out as their habitat continues to shrink and illegal hunting worsens. Five of the nine assessed species have been downgraded to critically endangered, with one variety the ploughshare tortoise now numbering only a few hundred individuals. The other critically endangered species include the radiated tortoise, flat-tailed tortoise, spider tortoise and Madagascar big-headed turtle, all of which are found nowhere else on earth.

Madagascars ancient tortoises and turtles are marching toward extinction unless an all-out effort is made to protect these living national treasures, said Dr. James Deutsch, director for the Wildlife Conservation Societys Africa programs. The good news is that theres still time to save Madagascars tortoises and turtles from extinction, and we know how to tackle the issues.

The workshop participants concluded that illegal trade continues to be the largest single threat for several of critically endangered species. Ploughshare, spider and flat-tailed tortoises, along with juvenile radiated tortoises, are particularly coveted by collectors and traded as pets on the international black market. Meanwhile, adult radiated tortoises are sold for food in regional markets in Tular and Fort-Dauphin.

In order to combat these illegal activities, the workshop participants recommended the creation of a tortoise brigade to monitor and control illegal trade. Confiscated tortoises could be repatriated to areas where populations had been decimated by illegal tr
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Contact: Stephen Sautner
ssautner@wcs.org
718-220-3682
Wildlife Conservation Society
Source:Eurekalert  

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