600 star tortoises to be released to Minsontaung Sanctuary

Baby star tortoises (Geochelone platynota) are seen before released to conservation area. Photo: Khin Myo Myo

PLANS are underway to release hundreds of star tortoises (Geochelone Platynota) to the Minsontaung Wildlife Sanctuary next year, said Dr Kalyar of Turtle Survival Alliance. This is the fourth time the TSA has released the tortoises, a critically endangered species, to the sanctuary since 2013, she added. The TSA first sent 150 star tortoises to the Minsontaung Wildlife Sanctuary in 2013, 300 tortoises in 2015 and an additional 300 tortoises in February of this year.
Under its project, experts from the TSA examine the health situation of those tortoises under the age of one year monthly  before they go to the sanctuary.
Small radio transmitters have been installed on the back of each turtle’s upper shell to provide information for  follow-up healthcare to those land-dwelling reptiles in the sanctuary, Dr Kalyar said.
The rare species is native to the dry and deciduous forests in the country. It can be found in Mandalay, Sagaing and Magway regions. This kind of tortoise normally eats grass, weeds, leaves, flowers and other fibrous plants as well as earthworms and snails. The tortoises normally lay eggs up to four times a year.
There are three protected areas for star tortoises in the country: Lawkananda Wildlife Sanctuary in Bagan; Shwesettaw Wildlife Sanctuary in Minbu Township and Minsontaung Wildlife Sanctuary in Natogyi Township. The Myanmar star tortoises are characterised by the highly distinctive star or radiating patterns on their upper shell. Males are distinguished from the females by a much thicker and longer tail.—200

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