The most threatened turtle in the world

For millions of years the Madagascar big-headed turtle (Erymnochelys madagascariensis) lived peacefully in the rivers and lakes of west Madagascar. Because of its strong bite and razor sharp claws, the adult turtles had no natural enemies. But when human beings came to Madagascar, this changed dramatically. The reason? Erymnochelys, locally known as Rere, has delicious meat. Consequently, generations of Malagasy people relentlessly hunted for them and nowadays, Erymnochelys has the IUCN classification of critically endangered species. Because it occurs not in a protected area, some consider Erymnochelys the most threatened reptile in the world.

Erymnochelys has a few peculiarities as compared to the other 4 Malagasy fresh water turtles. First, its size (to 11 kg!), second, its claws (4 instead of 5), third, its diet (meat as well as plants), and last but not least, its habit to pass the cold and dry season buried in the mud under water.

At Zazamalala we host Erymnochelys in large semi-natural concrete ponds and feed them with dog food and vegetables, e.g. the leaves of the sweet potato.

Do you help us to save this interesting reptile from extinction?

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