Population status and conservation of the Critically Endangered Burmese Star Tortoise Geochelone platynota in central Myanmar
The Critically Endangered Burmese star tortoise Geochelone platynota is endemic to the dry zone of central Myanmar. Although quantitative assessments are lacking, populations are believed to be in decline throughout its limited range due to over-collecting for international markets. We conducted star tortoise surveys during 2000–2001 at two sites in central Myanmar: Minzontaung Wildlife Sanctuary, a protected area established in 1998–1999, and Myaleik Taung, an area recently proposed for protected status. G. platynota populations of global conservation significance were found at both sites. Because tortoises are protected by local religious beliefs and commercial collecting is so far non-existent, the Sanctuary and Myaleik Taung offer excellent prospects for star tortoise conservation. The Sanctuary is well patrolled, protected from wildfires, and access is rigorously controlled. Recommended conservation actions at Myaleik Taung include management of livestock grazing, prescribed burning, and elimination of fuelwood cutting.(Received July 12 2002)
(Revised January 14 2003)
(Accepted June 16 2003)
Key Words: Burmese star tortoise; dry zone; Geochelone platynota; Myanmar; nat worship; tortoise conservation.
c1 The Institute of Environmental and Human Health, Department of Environmental Toxicology, Texas Tech University, Box 41163, Lubbock, TX 79409-1163, USA. E-mail: [email protected]