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Star tortoises find habitat in STR

Star tortoises find habitat in STR

The sighting of Indian star tortoises inside the Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve by wildlife enthusiasts last week has come as good news to conservationists here.

Though there was no way to make a count of the endangered species in the vast forest, the very survival so far of the species that was released there during 2012 was indicative of their adaptation and acclimatisation to new environs, forest officials said. A total of 192 Indian star tortoises confiscated as hatchlings from wildlife traders by Customs authorities were reared at Arignar Anna Zoological Park and released into the forests in Bhavani Sagar, Thalavadi, Hassanur, Dhimbam and Kermalam.

Indian star tortoises consume grass, herbaceous leaves, fruit, and flowers, found in plenty in STR, forest officials said. When food becomes scarce during summer months, they are capable of turning inactive for long periods without consuming food. This year, adequate monsoon rains followed by periodic rainfall during summer months ensured enough food for the tortoises, the officials added.

Raised as exotic pets illegally in other countries, the protected species finds grassland habitat in semi-arid forests ideal for grazing. The species requires natural sunlight as much as shade, and drinks and soaks in shallow water, wildlife officials said, adding that the STR, with its range of forests, could well be a haven for Indian star tortoises.