2,274Grants to

1,458(Sub)Species

Softshell tortoise (Malacochersus tornieri)

Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 12254179

Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation (Project No. 12254179) - Softshell tortoise - Awarded $10,000 on October 01, 2012

The African pancake tortoise (Malacochersus tornieri) is endemic to Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia. Within this range (and despite its inherent low reproductive potential), the species exhibits a patchy distribution, low populations and limited dispersal ability. Thus, it is predicted that when these constrained natural history traits are combined with anthropogenic disturbances, species populations are potentially exposed to extinction vortex. Very little is known about the species ecology and in order to reduce probability of extinction, the Government of Tanzania has imposed an exploitation moratorium since 1991. This project is therefore designed to observe, measure, and compare the relative importance of the following factors in determining tortoise fitness under field conditions: i) population and genetic structures, ii) body Index and tick parasite infestations, and iii) herbaceous vegetation composition and its effect on tortoise diet breadth. Together these four factors will be used to determine the viability of tortoise populations in undisturbed and disturbed habitats. This first comprehensive field study of the species in Tanzania will provide new species' ecological insights and will advance knowledge from which an informed species management strategies will base. The African pancake tortoise (Malacochersus tornieri) is endemic to Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia. Within this range (and despite its inherent low reproductive potential), the species exhibits a patchy distribution, low populations and limited dispersal ability. Thus, it is predicted that when these constrained natural history traits are combined with anthropogenic disturbances, species populations are potentially exposed to extinction vortex. Very little is known about the species ecology and in order to reduce probability of extinction, the Government of Tanzania has imposed an exploitation moratorium since 1991. This project is therefore designed to observe, measure, and compare the relative importance of the following factors in determining tortoise fitness under field conditions: i) population and genetic structures, ii) body Index and tick parasite infestations, and iii) herbaceous vegetation composition and its effect on tortoise diet breadth. Together these four factors will be used to determine the viability of tortoise populations in undisturbed and disturbed habitats. This first comprehensive field study of the species in Tanzania will provide new species' ecological insights and will advance knowledge from which an informed species management strategies will base.



Project 12254179 location - Tanzania, Africa