Species Spotlight Vol. 11

by Jordan Gray 

Burmese Star Tortoise

Burmese Star Tortoise (Geochelone platynota)

Countries of Origin: Myanmar

IUCN Status: Critically Endangered

Estimated surviving population: 14,000+ in assurance colonies and in situ sanctuaries.

Habitat: Grasslands, scrub forest, and dry forests of the Central Dry Zone of Myanmar, also known as the Irrawaddy Dry Forests.

Habits: Burmese Star Tortoises are most active in the early morning and late afternoon hours when the sun's rays are less imposing. They are most active during the monsoon season (June ‚Äì September) when the Central Dry Zone receives most of its roughly 102 cm (40 in) of annual rainfall. This species is primarily an herbivorous grazer and forager, although they may opportunistically eat animal protein if it becomes available to them. Female tortoises will lay between 1 ‚Äì 4 clutches of eggs during the cooler dry season (September ‚Äì February). Because the eggs are laid during this period, the embryos may undergo a diapause (temporary halt in development). This diapause helps to coincide hatchling emergence with the onset of the monsoon season when water and new, edible herbaceous growth are present.

Size: ‚⧠36 cm (14 in)

Factoid: The Burmese Star Tortoise was hunted to the brink of extinction for the food, pet, and traditional medicine trades. By the early 2000s, the few remaining populations were so low in specimen numbers that the tortoise was considered ecologically and functionally extinct in the wild. To effectively save the species from biological extinction, assurance colonies were created utilizing roughly 175 tortoises primarily confiscated from illegal trade. Since that time, over 14,000 tortoises have been produced through carefully managed breeding programs at these assurance colonies. Of these, roughly 1,000 have now been repatriated into two protected cialis en pharmacie sanctuaries in their former range. Read Tracking Burmese Stars here.

Greatest Threats: Poaching for the food, pet, and traditional medicine markets.

How you can help: The TSA, in collaboration with the Wildlife Conservation Society and Myanmar Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation, maintains several assurance colonies and repatriated populations of this species in Myanmar. Additionally, we maintain a genetically unrepresented pair of Burmese Star Tortoises at our Turtle Survival Center in South Carolina. To help care for the tortoises at our assurance facilities and successfully continue to reintroduce this species back into the wilds of Myanmar DONATE TODAY!