From Monaco to Senegal: 46 Endangered Tortoises Make the Long Journey Back Home

Driving an animal species to the edge of extinction is easy. You can ask poachers and irresponsible humans for tricks and techniques.

Returning an endangered species to the wild after years of conservation efforts is surely more challenging.

Photo: YouTube/Animal Fact Files

The African spurred tortoise, also called the Sulcata tortoise, is the third largest tortoise species on the planet and the largest species of mainland tortoise. Their ancient homeland stretches along the southern edge of the Sahara Desert and the Sahel, a semi-arid region that divides the Sahara to the north and the tropical savannahs to the south, and lying within this region are the African countries of Ethiopia, Chad, Mali, Burkina Faso, Eritrea, Mauritania, Nigeria, Sudan, and Senegal.

But now, their species are already listed as endangered because they are massively collected for pet trade. Urbanization and overgrazing of livestock have also caused the destruction of their habitats.

Photo: YouTube/Animal Fact Files

What kind of future awaits them? Many who keep them in captivity as personal pets may not find it important to answer this question. After all, in their point of view, they are doing their share of responsibility and are making sure their pet tortoises are happy. It’s not for them to think of the “big picture” – it’s the job of the government and animal conservationists.

As for those people whose activities and animals are having an impact on the habitats of the African spurred tortoises, their motto is “life must go on.” There are far too many problems to deal with, such as the impact of the pandemic, inflation, food insecurity, etc. on our everyday lives. They would also reason that it’s really in the hands of the government, whose major duties include fixing ecological troubles.

Nevertheless, some human beings cannot bear it on their conscience just to watch certain species simply disappear permanently. In the case of the African spurred tortoises, a conservation group has endeavored to raise a number of them to be returned to the wild.

And so, from Monaco’s Oceanographic Museum, forty-six tortoises were flown and transported to the Tortoise Village of Noflaye which is about 35 kilometers from the capital of Senegal. There, they were quarantined and taught survival skills before moving to a nature reserve.

The hope is for these young tortoises to survive and flourish in the wild, where only 150 adults are left. They could be gone forever from Senegal in 30 years’ time. Without human intervention, extinction is indeed their final destination.

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