Madagascar-endemic + star-shaped shells = critically-endangered

“Astrochelys” refers to the star-shaped patterns on the shells of these tortoises. They inhabit a range of tropical habitats, including brushlands, scrub forests, thorn forests, thickets, and woodlands, across their native range in Madagascar.

As herbivores, Astrochelys tortoises graze on a variety of vegetation, including fruits, grasses, and succulents, which they consume during the day. Their diet is adapted to their habitat, reflecting the availability of plant species within their respective ecosystems.

Reproduction in Astrochelys tortoises involves the female excavating a nest in the ground to deposit her eggs. After laying her clutch, which typically consists of 1 to 12 eggs depending on the species, the female covers the nest and departs, providing no further parental care. The success of the eggs depends largely on the environmental conditions of the nesting site and natural incubation processes.

Despite their ecological importance, both species of Astrochelys tortoises face severe threats to their survival. Habitat loss and fragmentation due to human activities, including deforestation and agricultural expansion, pose significant challenges to their populations. Additionally, poaching and illegal collection for the pet trade further exacerbate their decline, as these tortoises are highly prized for their unique appearance and rarity in the exotic pet market.

Conservation efforts aimed at protecting Astrochelys tortoises are critical for preventing their extinction in the wild. Initiatives focused on habitat conservation, population monitoring, and law enforcement to combat illegal wildlife trade are essential for safeguarding their remaining populations.