190 Radiated Tortoises (Astrochelys radiata) have been saved thanks to quick action by TSA-Madagascar Law Enforcement Officer Sylvain Mahazotahy, the Chef Cantonnement of Forestry of Antanimora Sud, and officers of the Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development (MEDD).
On Wednesday evening, Mahazotahy and the Chef Cantonnement of Forestry were in the Jafaro Commune of the Androy Region applying lilintane, a "bottom up" community-based law that is enforced by the people, and reinforces the cultural tradition for protecting tortoises that has existed in this region for centuries. During the event, a villager reported a bicyclist traveling through the community with a burlap bag full of tortoises. Mahazotahy and the Chef Cantonnement pursued.
The pursuit of the poacher led them to a stash of primarily adult tortoises and six other poachers involved in the operation. In a tense bust that involved the law enforcement team in hot pursuit of the poachers, 6 men were ultimately arrested, with 1 escaping. Additionally, 17 bicycles used to transport the bagged tortoises were confiscated. The TSA would like to thank the local Gendarmes of Beraketa for their support of this raid and preventing the poachers from escaping following their arrest.
TSA and the MEDD made arrangements to move the 190 tortoises to our Tortoise Conservation Centre near Tsiombe, Androy Region, where they will reside in safety. They are currently in transit.
As we move toward the holiday season, poaching of adult tortoises becomes more common, collecting them from the wild for meat to satisfy customers of high-end cuisine in the northern part of the country. You can help us in the fight for these tortoises by DONATING TODAY!