Saving the Pancake Tortoise

The Pancake Tortoise (Malacochersus tornieri) is a small, flattened tortoise that is found in isolated populations in Kenya, Tanzania and in remote areas of Zambia. It was listed amongst the top 25 most endangered turtles in the world in 2018. This species is unique in its ability to flatten its body and squeeze inside deep cracks and crevices of granite boulders (kopjes). The small size and unique features have made it very popular in the pet trade between 1975 and 2015, where wild turtles were captured, and their habitat often destroyed in the process.

In 2019, Turtle Survival Alliance partnered with conservation entities in Kenya — the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, the National Museums of Kenya and the Kenyan Wildlife Service, to explore previously un-surveyed but promising areas of Kenya for new and undocumented populations of Pancake Tortoises.  We discovered three (possibly connected) new populations at the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, the Leparua Community Conservancy and Il N’gwesi Community Conservancy. 

We are now embarking on developing a long-term survival plan focused on community protection measures that will include population monitoring, augmentation and learning more about the ecology of this species.

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Lead Partners and Supporters

Project Team

Marc Dupuis-Désormeaux

Lewa Wildlife Conservancy Canada

Dominic Maringa

Lewa Wildlife Conservancy Canada

Cyrus Kisio

Il N’gwesi Community Conservancy

Patrick Malonza

National Museums of Kenya

Mathew Mutinda DVM

Kenyan Wildlife Service

Victor Wasonga

National Museums of Kenya