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A seizure of 810 radiated tortoises was made on February 11, 2021, in Benonoky, Beloha District, Rural Commune of Tranovaho, Androy Region. 23 animals were found dead on site.

According to the Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development on its Facebook page, "investigations and searches for those responsible for this crime are currently underway".  

Mozambican media articles published on February 8 and 10, 2021, report the seizure of some 70 radiated tortoises from Madagascar on the island of Mozambique, in the district of Nampula. The holder claims to have rescued these animals from trafficking and to have amassed them for 16 years after having begun to regularize their situation with a view to selling them. Given that the deregistered turtles are listed in Appendix I of CITES (international trade prohibited), the veracity of these statements seems more than doubtful. It seems more likely that these tortoises were smuggled out of the country by sea seems more likely given that there are no direct flights between Madagascar and Mozambique and that transits from airport to airport would increase the risk of being caught. And so, somewhere in the south, this Portuguese gentleman has friends who help him collect and store these turtles before putting them on canoes, dhows or boats. By the way, the island of Mozambique in question is just in front of our coasts, between Maintirano and Marovoay. Maybe these two cases are even linked? On the Mozambican side, investigations are also in progress ...

This will be my small contribution to the investigation, waiting for the official results from both sides of the Canal and hoping that maybe this time the sponsors will be caught and punished. But then, frankly when I think of the 73 kg of gold, I really have little hope for these little tortoises...

Just as a reminder, the sponsors of the seizures of 10,000 and 7,000 and a few radiated tortoises that took place in June and October 2018 respectively are still on the streets - worse, they are no longer worried since the investigations into these two cases have been abandoned "for lack of evidence". Afterwards, the authorities are surprised and outraged at each new seizure, but it must be understood that it is not by dint of declarations of zero tolerance that this traffic will be stopped. As long as "zero tolerance" is not applied to the end of the supply chain and as long as the brains and those who finance them are not punished in an exemplary manner, even if it means resorting to regional and international cooperation, it will not stop.  A national turtle conservation strategy has been in place for some years but its implementation remains anecdotal like many of our strategies. Surveillance and monitoring of protected areas - the first line of defence against poachers - should be strengthened; alternative sources of income should be put in place to discourage collectors; there should be a lot of education and again and again, enforce the law to the end... In the meantime, delisted turtles are still considered Critically Endangered by the IUCN, and according to forecasts, they could disappear by 2050. They will take with them a part of our common heritage.