800 endangered Burmese star tortoises released into the wild
Conservation groups have released 800 Burmese star tortoises into two of Myanmar’s wildlife sanctuaries in an effort to resurrect a species that for years has been considered “ecologically extinct.”
Before it was hunted to near-extinction, the Burmese star tortoise was found only in Myanmar’s central dry zone. In the 1990s, wildlife traffickers began collecting the little creatures to sell in southern China, where their meat and ornate shell are prized for their medicinal properties. The tortoise was almost wiped out from
Starting in 2004, the population was rebuilt from 175 tortoises that had been confiscated from traffickers through a partnership between Myanmar’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), and the Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA).
Since then, more than 14,000 tortoises have been bred in Myanmar’s zoos and wildlife sanctuaries in the years since and have been gradually released into the wild.
On Monday, WCS and TSA released 150 tortoises into the Minzontaung Wildlife Sanctuary in Mandalay Region, and on Tuesday, they released 650 into the Shwesettaw Wildlife Sanctuary in Magway Region, bringing the total number of tortoises released through the program to more than 2,000.
WCS and TSA have said they hope to release 100,000 tortoises into the wild over the next century.