Target: Olivier Mahafaly Solonandrasana, Prime Minister of Madagascar
Goal: End the illegal hunting of the critically endangered ploughshare tortoise.
The ploughshare tortoise is frequently a target of illegal poaching for the pet trade despite its critically endangered status as one of the rarest land tortoises in the world. The tortoise is native to Madagascar, where only around 500 remain alive. The species’ black and gold shell gives it a distinct appearance which increases its appeal for the pet trade; according to National Geographic, they can sell for thousands of dollars on the international black market. The fact that the hunting and trade of the ploughshare tortoise is illegal has done little to dissuade poachers, and stronger law enforcement is necessary to preserve what is left of the dwindling population.
The ploughshare tortoise is listed as critically endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List and is protected under the national law of Madagascar. It is also listed under Appendix I on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) Appendix, meaning that the species is threatened with extinction and that therefore commercial trade of wild-caught specimen is illegal.
However, poaching has remained such a serious problem that last year conservationists had to engrave some of the tortoises’ shells with a marking. The hope was that this defacement of their shells, their most attractive feature, would make the tortoises less desirable to hunters.
Such drastic measures should never have to be taken to protect a critically endangered species, especially one that has laws in place to prohibit its hunting. Sign the petition below to urge the government of Madagascar to increase the enforcement of anti-poaching laws and keep the endangered ploughshare tortoise from going extinct.
Dear Prime Minister Solonandrasana,
A critically endangered tortoise that is native to Madagascar is facing extinction due to illegal poaching. The ploughshare tortoise is considered valuable on the international black market due to its appeal for the pet trade. The species’ distinctive shell makes it a target, and as a result only around 500 ploughshare tortoises remain alive.
Last year, poaching became such a problem that conservationists started engraving markings on the tortoises’ shells in order to mar this attractive feature in the hope of making them less desirable to hunters. According to Madagascar’s national law, it is illegal to hunt the ploughshare tortoise. The species is listed as critically endangered on IUCN’s Red List and is also protected under Appendix I of CITES. The fact that such drastic measures need to be taken to discourage poachers despite these laws proves that greater law enforcement is necessary.
I am urging you to crack down on poachers and increase law enforcement to stop illegal wildlife trade. Please take action to make conservation a priority and protect the highly endangered ploughshare tortoise from extinction.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Hans Hillewaert