Monday, 27 August 2012

Rescued ploughshare tortoises start first European breeding programme

Safety net population to ensure Ploughshare survival
August 2012. Conservationists are launching the first European breeding programme for ploughshare tortoises in an attempt to create a vital safety net population of the Critically Endangered animals.
Ploughshare tortoises are already being kept in captivity in America, where 20 animals are registered within three institutions, but it is the first time that they are being coordinated to form a breeding population in Europe. It follows a boom in the Asian pet trade, where ploughshares are being sold illegally for high prices, raising further concern for the future of the species.
The ploughshare tortoise is one of the most threatened species on the planet and until now, conservation efforts have focused on saving the species in its home range in Madagascar and protecting its native habitat, where Durrell began working with the species in 1986.
13 tortoises seized in Hong Kong
To start the European breeding programme, 13 rescued tortoises have been brought to three respected zoological institutions. Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust in Jersey, Chester Zoo and Rotterdam Zoo are each receiving some of the animals, which were part of shipments that were seized by the Hong Kong government in 2009 and 2010.
Matthias Goetz, Head of Durrell's Herpetology Department, said: "Thankfully the rescued tortoises were given to the Kadoorie Farm and Botanical Garden (KFBG) wild animal rescue centre, which took great care of them and started working with international partners to identify new homes for the animals. Along with the other two European institutions, Durrell is delighted to be receiving some of the tortoises and playing a part in a new captive breeding programme which aims to save these beautiful creatures from extinction."

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