When Lonesome George died in June 2012, it was the end of an entire species. He was the last surviving Pinta giant tortoise (Chelonoidis abingdonii), a Galapagos conservation icon who had lived for more than 100 years. But Lonesome George was not alone in his fate. More than 50 percent of the world’s 356 known species of tortoises and turtles are currently threatened with extinction, or are nearly extinct, a new report warns.
“This report is a wake-up call — a call to action if you will — for everyone who cares about the future of this iconic group of animals,” Rick Hudson, president of the Turtle Survival Alliance, said in a statement. “We must double down on our commitment to protect them, and though we’ve made impressive strides in the recovery of several species, others are still at risk of slipping through the cracks. Turtles and tortoises face many serious threats today but none more insidious than the illegal wildlife trade.”
Every four years since 2003, turtle conservationists have been publishing a list of the top 25 most threatened turtle species in the world. The 2018 report presents an updated list of 50 species that are at immediate risk of extinction, selected on the basis of their “survival prospects and extinction risks.”
Some 58 percent of the top 50 species are native to Asia, the report said, with most species coming from China, followed by Vietnam, India, Indonesia and Madagascar.
Source: Mongabay, 22 March 2018