A sudden increase of relentless poaching for the illegal wildlife trade between 2015 and 2018 left the ploughshare tortoise possibly/nearly functionally extinct in the wild. Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust is maintaining, and has been for the last three decades, a large captive breeding colony in Madagascar, which now serves as the last stronghold for the species. From there, animals have been released back into the wild in the past and they will be used to re-colonise wild habitats again once better safety from poaching is assured. EAZA Member institutions have taken on animals confiscated from the illegal trade and are building up an international ex situ assurance population. This EEP serves two main purposes: to manage genetically sound, sustainable breeding and release goals at the breeding centres in Madagascar; secondly, using animals confiscated from the illegal trade, to build up a healthy, long-term breeding population in zoos, serving as education ambassadors and a last guarantee against the extinction of the species.
|• Veterinary training/research
The ex situ zoo population provides veterinary research opportunities and benchmarks for captive ploughshare tortoises to support health management and veterinary protocols in the Madagascar breeding centres.
Raising awareness on how illegal trade contributes to the extinction of species such as the ploughshare tortoise.
In January 2021, the Ploughshare tortoise EEP had 775 animals in 9 institutions.
This work is supported by the European Union LIFE NGO funding programme. The European Union is not responsible for the views displayed in publications and/or in conjunction with the activities for which the grant is used.