The star tortoise makes a comeback

The Burmese star tortoise (Geochelone platynota), a medium-sized tortoise found only in Myanmar's central dry zone, has been brought back from the brink of extinction thanks to an aggressive captive-breeding effort spearheaded by a team of conservationists and government partners.

The tortoises now number over 14,000 individuals, up from an estimated population of just a few hundred animals in the early 2000s. Burgeoning demand from wildlife markets in southern China beginning in the mid-1990s virtually wiped out the tortoise in a matter of years until viable populations could no longer be found, and the species was considered ecologically extinct.

Approximately 750 animals have been released into wild areas of the sanctuaries, and the long term objective of restoring viable populations in every protected area in the central dry zone is now biologically attainable. However, political and social challenges need to be resolved before large-scale reintroduction takes place to ensure the tortoises are not taken by poachers.

Source: Wildlife Conservation Society


  • The Burmese star tortoise is among the least studied of all living tortoises and virtually nothing is known of its behavioural ecology in the wild.
  • The tortoise can only be found in central Myanmar (formerly Burma).
  • Classified as Critically Endangered (CR A1cd+2cd, C2a) on the IUCN Red List 2004.
  • Hunted for it's distinctive markings, dramatic colours, and rarity. Making them particularly valuable for private collectors, selling for as much as US $7,000 each.

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