Of threatened tortoises and rosewood: Stopping the fast extinction of a slow-moving creature | Global Ideas | DW | 27.09.2019

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Global Ideas

Of threatened tortoises and rosewood: Stopping the fast extinction of a slow-moving creature

The pet trade, and hunger for meat are driving the elongated tortoise to extinction. Cambodian conservationists hope to revive the species in the wild by pairing them with a highly-guarded tree.

Tortoise protection in Cambodia

Project goal: The Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity (ACCB) in northern Cambodia is home to 730 animals, 91% of which are highly threatened. ACCB is rehabilitating the animals with the aim of releasing them back into the wild. They have also set up a breeding program for some threatened species

Project implementation: The elongated tortoise is one of the animals ACCB has successfully bred. In a few years, the team hopes to release and resettle a whole population in the area

Partners: ACCB, Allwetterzoo Münster, Zoological Society for the Conservation of Species and Populations, German conservation group Stiftung Artenschutz and management consultancy firm Goetzpartners

Tortoises are inoffensive animals. Perhaps some would consider these slow-moving, nondescript creatures cute. Yet they are among the most threatened vertebrates on the planet, even ahead of primates. Their enemies are the usual trifecta of human appetite, superstition and tradition.

The elongated tortoise also shares this fate. Just recently, the animal was listed as critically endangered on the Red List of Threatened Species. But there's an up-and-coming generation at the ACCB. The center has managed to successfully breed the animals. The problem is it's unsafe to let them out into the wild, as they can be easily caught. Conservationists hope the highly sought-after and strictly guarded rosewood tree could play a role. 

A film by Lea Albrecht

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