Continued trafficking of endemic tortoises risks undoing decades of efforts to conserve Madagascar’s natural heritage | WWF

Continued trafficking of endemic tortoises risks undoing decades of efforts to conserve Madagascar’s natural heritage

Posted on
13 April 2013
In the first three months of 2013 only, 1026 individuals of the two most famous Malagasy tortoise species have been seized after illegal exportation attempts. Who knows how many have left Madagascar without being stopped? In one of the most recent cases, 54 angonoka, the rarest and most threatened tortoise species in the world made it as far as Thailand before being seized.

We the undersigned, non-governmental organisations working for the conservation of natural resources for the long-term benefit of local communities, would like to express our deep concern over the intensification of the illegal trade in tortoises, both domestically and internationally. Before the current political crisis, the total number of individuals intercepted in one year included at most a few hundred individuals. Now this figure is ten times that, counting only the recorded cases. This is reflected by the fact that the radiated tortoise of Madagascar was the most common species on the Asian black market in 2010. Action is needed now, before Malagasy tortoises reach the critical threshold where they can no longer be saved.

As flagship species for unique ecosystems, these tortoises are an integral part of Madagascar’s world-renowned biodiversity and natural heritage. Losing these fascinating creatures, who have survived or millions of years, just for the profits of a handful of traders would be an irremediable disaster for conservation in Madagascar and embarrassing, even shameful for the Malagasy people as a whole, starting with its leaders.

We call on the Malagasy authorities to act as a matter of urgency to ensure that these crimes are strongly punished, so that Malagasy species are no longer hostages to the political crisis.

We invite every citizen to remember that the sustainable development of the country depends on each person taking responsibility. We all have a responsibility to denounce illegal trafficking and the removal of tortoises from their natural habitat.

Through this appeal, we affirm our commitment to the biodiversity of Madagascar and for the well- being of local communities - the owners of this natural heritage. 

Alliance Voahary Gasy
Conservation International
Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership
Turtle Survival Alliance
Wildlife Conservation Society