Enhancing frontline protection of the Critically Endangered ploughshare tortoise
The ploughshare tortoise is the world's most highly sought after reptile on the illegal pet trade. Found in only one location in Madagascar, a surge in poaching in 2016, is likely to send the species functionally extinct in the wild without immediate action. Together with partners we put in place a response strategy using the Zero Poaching Toolkit framework and have implemented actions across all aspects of the illegal trade chain. We have achieved notable successes in pioneering community-based patrolling, as a response to the lack of professional rangers who have the powers of arrest in Madagascar. We have also managed to ensure that captive security of the species and worked with experts to initiate the first major prosecutions of smugglers (Sept 2016). With the existing patrol teams we have a strong basis, but one that has many challenges. This project will address these problems and implement innovative approaches using smartphones to collect patrol data that is directly sent to a central anti-poaching database to help managers direct responses in real-time. We want the community-based protection of ploughshare tortoises and their habitat to become a leading example of effective national park management in one of the poorest regions of Madagascar.