Wednesday 15 May
Ploughshare tortoise (Astrochelys yniphora)
Ploughshare tortoise fact file
- Find out more
- Print factsheet
Ploughshare tortoise description
This species is one of the rarest land tortoises in the world (4). Its common name refers to the appearance of the 'gular scute' (5) at the lower part of the shell (plastron), which is drawn out into a plough-shaped projection between the front legs (6). The upper shell (carapace) is hard, highly domed and brown in colour, with prominent concentric growth rings on each scute (5). Males are larger than females (2).
- Also known as
- Angonoka, Madagascar angulated tortoise, Madagascar tortoise.
- Angonoka yniphora, Geochelone yniphora, Testudo yniphora.
- Tortue À Éperon, Tortue À Plastron Éperonné, Tortue À Soc De Madagascar, Tortue De Madagascar.
- Tortuga De Madagascar, Tortuga Globulosa Malagache.
- Shell length: up to 43 cm (2).
- Angonoka tortoise (Geochelone yniphora). Wildlife Preservation Trust- the wild ones:
- The top shell of a turtle.
- A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
- In reptiles, the ventral shell of a turtle or tortoise.
- One of the large keratinous scales on the carapace (the top shell of a turtle or tortoise).
- IUCN Red List (May, 2009)
- Ploughshare (Angonoka) Tortoise - Enchanted Learning (March, 2004)
- CITES (April, 2009)
- Vital veterinary training for Madagascar tortoise team. Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust. (March, 2004)
- Gibson, R. (2004) Pers. comm.
- Angonoka tortoise (Geochelone yniphora). Wildlife Preservation Trust- the wild ones (March, 2004)
- Pedrono, M., Smith, L.L., Clobert, J., Massot, M. and Sarrazin, F. (01/01/0001 00:00:00) Wild-captive metapopulation viability analysis. Biological Conservation,.
- Smith, L.L., Reid, D., Bourou, R., Mahatoly, J. and Sibo, C. (1999) Status and distribution of the angonoka tortoise (Geochelone yniphora) of western Madagascar. Biological Conservation, 91: 23 - 33.
- Endangered Species Handbook (April, 2008)
- Durrell, L. (1994) A is for angonoka: the ploughshare tortoise project and the ABCs of species conservation. Testudo, 14(1).
- Behler, J.L. Troubled times for turtles (March, 2004)
- view the contents of, and Material on, the website;
- download and retain copies of the Material on their personal systems in digital form in low resolution for their own personal use;
- teachers, lecturers and students may incorporate the Material in their educational material (including, but not limited to, their lesson plans, presentations, worksheets and projects) in hard copy and digital format for use within a registered educational establishment, provided that the integrity of the Material is maintained and that copyright ownership and authorship is appropriately acknowledged by the End User.
Ploughshare tortoise biology
This species feeds on grasses and a wide range of other plants (2). Males compete for access to females; during these wrestling matches, males try to flip their opponent over using the plough-like projection of the lower shell below the neck (9). Each breeding season, females lay up to seven clutches of between two and six eggs (6). She lays the eggs in a pit that she digs with her hind legs, covers them with soil and abandons them (2). Young ploughshare tortoises are around the size of a ping pong ball when they hatch at the beginning of the wet season (5) (6). They are fully independent immediately after emerging, but it takes as long as 20 years for them to reach sexual maturity (6).Top
Ploughshare tortoise range
This extremely rare tortoise is endemic to Madagascar. It is thought that only around 600 individuals remain in the wild (7). These individuals occur in just five isolated and small populations in a 30 kilometre radius of Baly Bay in north western Madagascar (8).Top
Ploughshare tortoise habitat
The ploughshare tortoise is found in dry forests in course grass and in scrubby habitats close to bamboo forests (6).Top
Ploughshare tortoise statusTop
Ploughshare tortoise threats
The main threats affecting this very rare species include habitat loss, largely as a result of uncontrolled bush fires, predation of eggs and young by the introduced bush pig (Potamochoerus larvatus) and illegal collecting by people (5) (8). Like other tortoises and turtles, this species has a slow growth rate and low breeding potential. In addition, it takes individuals a long time to reach sexual maturity. All of these factors reduce the capacity of populations to recover from human-induced effects on the population (5) (7).Top
Ploughshare tortoise conservation
A recovery programme was established for this species in 1986 by the Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust in collaboration with the Malagasy Department of Waters and Forests. A captive-breeding facility was established in Madagascar and within eight years over 100 young ploughshare tortoises had been bred. A study into the habitat of the species and interactions with humans was also established, and a grassroots-level environmental education programme was set up (10). Experimental reintroductions of captive-bred tortoises have been successful to date and large-scale release to re-establish extirpated populations are being planned (5). Although international trade in the ploughshare tortoise is illegal due to its listing under Appendix I of the Convention of International trade in Endangered Species (CITES), poor enforcement of the exotic pet trade is causing great problems. In 1996, 73 individuals were stolen from the captive breeding programme in Madagascar and as recently as 2003 reptile collectors have been arrested with wild ploughshare tortoises in their possession destined for the international exotic pet market (5). When a species is this rare, outrageous crimes such as these have serious implications for the already precarious state of the species (11). These incidents have highlighted weaknesses in wildlife law which must be urgently addressed (11).Top
Find out more
For more information on this species see:
Information authenticated by Richard Gibson, Curator of Herpetology, Zoological Society of London.
More »Related species
Play the Team WILD game
MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.
Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials
Copyright in this website and materials contained on this website (Material) belongs to Wildscreen or its licensors.
Visitors to this website (End Users) are entitled to:
End Users shall not copy or otherwise extract, alter or manipulate Material other than as permitted in these Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials.
Additional use of flagged material
Green flagged material
Certain Material on this website (Licence 4 Material) displays a green flag next to the Material and is available for not-for-profit conservation or educational use. This material may be used by End Users, who are individuals or organisations that are in our opinion not-for-profit, for their not-for-profit conservation or not-for-profit educational purposes. Low resolution, watermarked images may be copied from this website by such End Users for such purposes. If you require high resolution or non-watermarked versions of the Material, please contact Wildscreen with details of your proposed use.
Creative commons material
Certain Material on this website has been licensed to Wildscreen under a Creative Commons Licence. These images are clearly marked with the Creative Commons buttons and may be used by End Users only in the way allowed by the specific Creative Commons Licence under which they have been submitted. Please see http://creativecommons.org for details.
Any other use
Please contact the copyright owners directly (copyright and contact details are shown for each media item) to negotiate terms and conditions for any use of Material other than those expressly permitted above. Please note that many of the contributors to ARKive are commercial operators and may request a fee for such use.
Save as permitted above, no person or organisation is permitted to incorporate any copyright material from this website into any other work or publication in any format (this includes but is not limited to: websites, Apps, CDs, DVDs, intranets, extranets, signage, digital communications or on printed materials for external or other distribution). Use of the Material for promotional, administrative or for-profit purposes is not permitted.