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February 27, 2018

Action will be taken against smuggling of star tortoise

Baby star tortoises (Geochelone platynota) are seen before released to conservation area. Photo: Khin Myo Myo
Baby star tortoises (Geochelone platynota) are seen before released to conservation area. Photo: Khin Myo Myo

“Action will be taken against smuggling of star tortoises, which are endangered specie. A prison term of seven years and Ks 50,000 fine will be imposed upon the smugglers because the eco system upon which human beings depend is maintained by star tortoises, said Dr Kalyar, the resident representative of Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA).
The Myanmar star tortoise (Geochelone platynota) is a Critically Endangered species endemic to the dry zone of central Myanmar.  Star tortoises have long been harvested for food by local people, but high demand, first from food and traditional medicine markets in southern China, and later by pet markets in China, Japan, and Thailand led to precipitous population declines during the late 1990s, and the species is now thought to be “ecologically” extinct. Recognizing that future conservation efforts hinged on developing successful captive breeding programs to supply tortoises for eventual reintroduction. Colonies of Myanmar star tortoises were established at several facilities in Myanmar (Shwe Settaw, Minzontaung, and Lawkananda Wildlife Sanctuaries, and Yadanabon Zoological Gardens in Mandalay).  To date, these programs have enjoyed considerable success and large numbers of hatchlings are being produced each year.  Consequently, the species is now at little risk of biological extinction. Considerable interest has been expressed in reintroducing tortoises into suitably protected sites, and a recent survey identified two wildlife sanctuaries (Shwe Settaw and Minzontaung wildlife sanctuaries) where such projects were deemed feasible.
The star tortoises are being raised under a new breeding system under research in four sanctuaries. They are adults at their sixties, and 50 tortoises are being bred every year. This kind of Myanmar star tortoises are being preserved because they excrete faeces the seeds from which grow as plants which keep the environment healthy, it is learnt.  A total of 407 star tortoises are being provided with healthcare in Shwesettaw wildlife sanctuary, it is noted.  There are 26 species of tortoises and among which star tortoises and other eight species of tortoises are in the danger of near extinction. —200


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