A tortoise that wears a brilliant yellow star pattern on its back and lives in Madagascar is rapidly nearing extinction due to poaching for its meat and the illegal pet trade, a team of biologists reports today.
The radiated tortoise (Geochelone radiata) could die out within the next 20 years unless drastic conservation measures are taken, say biologists from the Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA) and Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).
The tortoise, whose carapace reaches a length of 16 inches (41 centimeters), weighs up to 35 pounds (16 kilograms) and is considered one of the most beautiful tortoises in the world, according to the Smithsonian National Zoo. Its legs, feet, and head are yellow except for a black splotch on top of its head. Yellow lines radiate outward from each dark plate on its domed shell.
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