More than EIGHT HUNDRED critically endangered radiated tortoises were recently rescued from smugglers on the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar. Hidden in vehicles with no food or water and suffering life-threatening injuries, these animals needed intensive care to survive the days and weeks following their rescue.
The death of these rare tortoises will be a critical blow to the survival of the entire radiated tortoise population. With your help, ASI provided emergency funding for food, water and medical supplies for their recovery. But with drought ravaging the island, food and water for the tortoises is now dangerously scarce, and costly.
Already, 68 have died! But we have a chance to save the rest.
In a daring operation, Turtle Survival Alliance Madagascar (TSA Madagascar) rescued the tortoises which were found in a shocking state, crammed on top of each other and covered in their own urine and feces. Some of the creatures had been brutally manhandled by their captors and sustained life-threatening injuries, including open wounds and broken shells.
Radiated tortoises can survive without water for more than a month, but these were dangerously dehydrated, meaning they had been kept without food or water for a very long time. Some were too weak to even drink, and the rescue team resorted to injecting water under their skin to keep them alive.
Unless we act now, radiated tortoises will be extinct in less than 20 years!
Rampant poaching for the illegal pet trade, has caused the number of radiated tortoises to drop by 80% in just 30 years. Their beautiful star-patterned shells and the ‘rain dance’ they perform when sprayed with water, make them popular pets – but they don’t survive for long in captivity.
Each one of these rescued radiated tortoises is vital to the survival of its species. If protected, these individuals could produce thousands of baby tortoises.
But before that can become a reality, they must survive a new threat, a result of climate change: drought!
In the wild, radiated tortoises eat specific types of grasses and leaves that are high in protein and nutrients. When they are in recovery, they are fed a combination of fruits and vegetables such as sweet potato, loose-leaf greens, berries and prickly pears for extra nutrition.
But, in the face of a devastating drought, the TSA Madagascar team are traveling further and further afield, and paying increasingly more to secure fresh organic food so that these animals can recover.