As few as 500 adult ploughshare tortoises roam the bamboo scrub of Baly Bay in north-western Madagascar. Fortunately, many more are thriving in the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust’s captive breeding colony. Since 1998, 65 sub-adult tortoises have been reintroduced into the wild. And now, a local field team has discovered the first progeny of those released animals.
“The importance of the discovery of the baby ploughshares cannot be over-emphasised,” Lee Durrell, the Trust’s Honorary Director, said in a press release. “They represent a beacon for the future of not only the iconic ploughshare in Madagascar but many other species whose survival relies on similar conservation breeding programmes.”
Measuring just 5 centimeters in length and weighing just 30 grams, the two babies are believed to be approximately 1 year old. The question now is will they survive. “The Madagascar habitat that is their home is a tough one—there are bush pigs, buzzards, a harsh climate, and poachers to contend with—but they are healthy and strong and we believe they stand a good chance,” Durrell says.
Read more about the ploughshare tortoise’s poaching woes in this month’s “Marked for Life.”