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Rare Reptiles Breed in Wild

Two baby ploughshare tortoises born to parents raised in a captive breeding program are discovered in Madagascar, validating the conservation effort.

Apr 27, 2012
Jef Akst

One of two baby ploughshare tortoises found in the wild.DURRELL WILDLIFE CONSERVATION TRUST

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.”

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