When a species is on the brink of extinction, it might require decades of sustained conservation. We apply seven key actions at different times and with varying levels of effort, depending on the species’ needs. We monitor the impact of our work and revisit actions if they’re not working as planned.
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The ploughshare tortoise is currently top of our list in terms of conservation effort spent.
In 1986 the ploughshare tortoise was highly threatened because its dry scrubland habitat around Baly Bay, Madagascar, was disappearing. We worked with local communities to reduce threats to the wild population such as bush fires, established a national park and set up a breeding centre to reintroduce tortoises to the wild.
We were making progress. Then poaching driven by the illegal pet trade exploded, becoming the biggest risk to the tortoises’ survival. Currently, more ploughshare tortoises may live as pets than in the wild.
There is a real possibility that this ancient reptile could become extinct; without conservation, it might have disappeared already. We are now working with the Malagasy government and our local partners to ensure our efforts so far haven’t been in vain.