n Farmer’s Weekly - Saving the geometric tortoise : feature - cover

Volume 2016, Issue 16010
  • ISSN : 0041-848X



South Africa is a tortoise hotspot, with more species of these reptiles than any other country: no fewer than 12 species are found here. One, the geometric tortoise (Psammobates geometricus), is endemic to the Western Cape, and today only about 1 000 of their number are left. The species is on the brink of extinction. In 2012, half of the largest population of the tortoise - all in a nature reserve - were killed in a veld fire. Only 250 tortoises survived. Reserve manager,Bernard Wooding, says that the geometric tortoise has been conserved in this reserve since its establishment in the 1970s. (The name of the reserve is being withheld so as not to reveal the location where the tortoises are being kept.) A research and breeding programme was set up after the veld fire and this is currently the only breeding project for the species. Because they do not survive out of their natural habitat, the breeding project is in situ.

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