Elongated tortoise (Indotestudo elongata)
Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 232530980
Assessing population, habitat use, and threats of Critically Endangered Elongated Tortoise (Indotestudo elongata) outside protected areas in Bhutan.
Recently, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has listed the Elongated Tortoise (Indotestudo elongata) as critically endangered under the criterion A2cd. The species has declined across its range by around 80% due to habitat loss, exploitation for consumption, and trade in the last three generations (Rahman et al., 2019). The species is widely distributed across South and Southeast Asia, including Bhutan (Rahman et al., 2019). Despite its widespread distribution, this species's population has declined due to human disruptions (Ihlow et al., 2016). Moreover, Ihlow et al. (2016) also pointed out that the main challenges to conserving the Tortoise across its distribution range are habitat destruction, extensive exploitation for human consumption, and export trade.
Bhutan is a small landlocked country with 38,394 sq km, nestled between India and China in the Himalayas. The country's altitude ranges between 200m – 7000m comprising two important bio-geographic realms: Indo-Malayan and Pale-artic, bestowing diverse biodiversity. Topographically, it is characterized by steep mountains and deep valleys crisscrossed by turbulent rivers, which ultimately drain into Indian plains. Human settlements are confined chiefly along the river valleys and small strips of plain in the south. This small plain strip is the prime habitat of Elongated Tortoise in the country. The species had been mostly sighted in the southern foothills, in the sub-tropical forest, where there are threats of transboundary trade and poaching (Wangyal et al., 2012). Moreover, there are risks posed by excessive deforestation, sand and gravel exploitation from riverbanks, urban growth, and road and dam construction. Therefore, initiating any conservation activities in the region will immensely benefit from conserving the species and its habitat. This will also aid in conserving other turtle species in the country. However, it is apparent that, generally, wildlife in protected areas are less vulnerable to threats than those outside. Thus, the project is proposed in the southern plain, excluding protected areas.
1. To assess the population status of the species and habitat use.
2. To determine threats of concern and prioritize mitigation measures to protect the species.
3. To educate the community and create awareness of the presence of rare species in their locality.
Ihlow, F., Dawson, J., Hartmann, T., & Som, S. (2016). Indotestudo elongata (Blyth 1854) – Elongated Tortoise, Yellow-headed Tortoise, Yellow Tortoise. Crumly 1988. https://doi.org/10.3854/crm.5.096.elongata.v1.2016
Rahman, S., Platt, K., Das, I., Choudhury, B.C., Ahmed, M.F., Cota, M., McCormack, T., & Timmins, R. J. & S. (2019). Indotestudo elongata (errata version published in 2019). The IUCN Red List of
Wangyal, J. T., Wangchuk, D., & Das, I. (2012). First report of turtles from the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan. Chelonian Conservation and Biology, 11(2), 268–272. https://doi.org/10.2744/CCB-0995.1
Project 232530980 location - Bhutan, Asia