Stop Meat and Pet Trade of Endangered Radiated Tortoise

Target: Achim Steiner, Director of the United Nations Environment Programme

Goal: Stop illegal pet and meat trade of radiated tortoise

Poachers are threatening the livelihood of the radiated tortoise, a critically endangered species endemic to southern Madagascar. The species has already suffered a massive decline due to habitat loss from human development, and poaching might just be enough to put them over the edge.  They have become a favorite in the black market of illegal pet and meat trade. Recently, two passengers were arrested after 569 radiated tortoises were seized from luggage at an airport in Madagascar in an attempt to smuggle them to Thailand and China. Three were already dead, with others in very poor condition. This could be considered a win, but what about the majority of cases where the bad guys get away, and these endangered animals are taken from the wild to end up as someone’s pet, or worse, dinner? This species needs some major protection before it is eliminated from its natural habitat.

The radiated tortoise is considered one of the most beautiful species of tortoises, perhaps because of the intricate yellow lines on their shells that form star shapes. Unfortunately, this is what makes them such a hot commodity. The radiated tortoise is considered a delicacy in parts of Asia. They are thought to have an aphrodisiac quality, and many are willing to pay a high price for its meat. Their beauty also makes them an attractive choice for a pet.  They are seized from their native habitat in the wild, an arid spiny forest, and placed into someone’s home, which no doubt causes them psychological trauma. This animal is not meant to be domestic.

With extinction occurring at the rate that it is, this is an urgent cause. Scientists have predicted that the radiated tortoise may only have 20 years left if this continues. Too make matters worse, Madagascar may not be equipped to solve this problem on its own. With a poor economy, the country may lack the funding it needs to provide proper protection for this species. Currently, groups like the Turtle Survival Alliance work towards saving this species from extinction, and even rehabilitate turtles saved from illegal exportation before releasing them back into the wild. But we can’t just leave it up to them.

Sign this petition and call upon the director of the United Nations Environment Programme to take action.


Dear Mr. Steiner,

I am writing to you on behalf of the radiated tortoise. This critically endangered tortoise, native to Madagascar, is declining at an alarming rate. Their beauty has caused them to become a target of both the illegal pet and meat trade. These animals do not belong in someone’s home, much less on someone’s plate. Recently, 569 radiated tortoises were seized at an airport in Madagascar. A few were already dead, while others were in poor health. The passengers trying to smuggle them out were caught, but what about the more common scenario, when they get away?

The government of Madagascar does what they can to stop this, but they need help. As you know, poaching and smuggling of animals is difficult to regulate. Making it illegal isn’t enough because people always find a way to get around the system. I believe the United Nations Environment Programme would be well equipped to aid in the fight against these criminals by implementing a special program to protect the tortoises and prevent people from accessing them. The radiated tortoise needs to be saved before it’s too late. There is still time to reverse the damage.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: juliaklarman via Flickr

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  1. Truly tragic what man does to animals, all of whom are defenseless and innocent.

  2. Ruth Rogers Ruth Rogers says:

    What a beautiful turtle to look at in the place where it lives. Thank you for the petition.

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