People can study the star tortoises conserved at the Minzontaung Wildlife Sanctuary in Ngahtogyi Township, Myingyan District of Mandalay Region.
The Natural Environment and Wildlife Conservation of the Forestry Department under the Ministry of Natural Resource and Environmental Conservation save the endangered species and wild animals.
The sanctuary conserves more than 3,000 rare star tortoises to date and so people can study about the star tortoises there.
The conserved Myanmar star tortoises are released at the Minzontaung Wildlife Sanctuary and the officials released a total of 750 star tortoises — 150 tortoises in 2013 and another 300 in 2015 and 2017 respectively. They also released the star tortoises in 2018.
The tortoises are the oldest reptiles that appeared before dinosaurs about 2,000 years ago. There are 31 species of tortoises in Myanmar including 5 species of sea turtle, 22 species of fresh-water turtles and 4 species of land turtles. 8 species out of 26 fresh-water turtles and land turtles are on the verge of extinction. The star tortoises are facing such situation as well.
The Minzontaung Wildlife Sanctuary conserved the star tortoises systematically and collected data of the tortoises yearly since the tortoises laid their eggs.
The Myanmar star tortoise, scientifically known as Geochelone playtonta, is a critically endangered species endemic to the dry zone in central Myanmar’s Mandalay, Magway and Sagaing regions. They are also locally called as star tortoises, spider tortoises, flatback tortoises, and so on.
They feed mushrooms, vegetables in addition to earthworm and snails. They mostly eat all kinds of food. The star tortoises lay eggs 1 to 4 clutches a year. The tortoise population declines due to the wildfire and illegal trade. So, they are now conserved systematically at Lawkanada sanctuary in Bagan, Shwe Set Taw sanctuary in Minbu, Minzontaung sanctuary in Ngahtogyi and Mya Late Taung near Kywenapha village in PyinOoLwin.
Currently, the visitors to Ngahtogyi township should not miss the Minzontaung Wildlife Sanctuary to study the Myanmar star tortoises.— Nway Nadi (Myit Nge) (Translated by Khine Thazin Han)