Armed bands of poachers are illegally collecting Madagascar’s radiated tortoise (Astrochelys radiata) by the truckload for the lucrative pet and meat trades, according to a report from the Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA) and Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).
As a result of this rampant overexploitation the once-common species could be driven into extinction in the next two decades. Radiated tortoises, considered by many to be one of the most beautiful of all turtles, and therefore highly valued in the pet trade, are only found in Madagascar.
“Areas where scores of radiated tortoises could be seen just a few years ago have been poached clean,” James Deutsch, director of the WCS’s Africa Program, said in a prepared statement. The organizations say they have discovered poaching camps with the remains of thousands of radiated tortoises.
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