Conservationists engrave shells to save rare tortoises

The Madagascan ploughshare tortoise.

The Madagascan ploughshare tortoise. Image by Bernard Dupont / CC BY-SA 2.0

There are only 500 or so ploughshare tortoises left in the world, and they all live in Madagascar. Their distinctive black and gold shells are unfortunately highly prized, and the animals can fetch thousands of dollars if sold illegally, often to become pets in China. In an effort to save the endangered species, conservationists have started deliberately defacing the shells by engraving MG (for Madagascar) and a large serial number into them. The etchings are millimetres deep and only penetrate the shell, so do not touch the more sensitive bone underneath. To date, around 70 of the wild tortoises have been engraved. Read more: 

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