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Baard, E. H. W. , The impact of a runaway wildfire on the geometric tortoise population of the elandsberg nature reserve - abstract. Unpublished paper presented at Program and Abstracts of the Tenth Annual Symposium on the Conservation and Biology of Tortoises and Freshwater Turtles. 
Added by: Admin (06 Jan 2014 18:22:36 UTC)
Resource type: Conference Paper
BibTeX citation key: anon2012c
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Categories: General
Keywords: Chersina angulata, Habitat - habitat, Homopus areolatus, Psammobates geometricus, Schildkröten - turtles + tortoises, Südafrika - Southern Africa, Testudinidae
Creators: Baard
Collection: Program and Abstracts of the Tenth Annual Symposium on the Conservation and Biology of Tortoises and Freshwater Turtles
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Testudinidae Psammobates geometricus Homopus areolatus Chersina angulata Terrestrial tortoise populations in fire-prone habitats are vulnerable to and are significantly impacted by fires during the dry season. In January 2012, a runaway wildfire burned through the Elandsberg Nature Reserve, the last major stronghold for the Critically Endangered Geometric Tortoise, Psammobates geometricus. The fire destroyed approximately 90% of the lowland habitat considered as the prime habitat for this species. Following the fire, a two-week search-and-rescue effort was launched by CapeNature, the Elandsberg Nature Reserve, and the University of the Western Cape. The first priority was to rescue from the wild as many live individuals as possible of the three species occurring there, namely Geometric Tortoises, Common Parrot-beaked Tortoises or padlopers, and Angulate Tortoises. A total of just over 200 tortoises were found, of which just over 50% were still alive. All tortoises were temporarily taken into holding facilities where they were stabilized and watered. A few animals succumbed to their injuries. After two weeks, all Parrot-beaked and Angulate Tortoises were released into patches of unburned veld, while all Geometric Tortoises were released into more permanent holding facilities to track their recovery and survival after the fire. These animals will be released back into the wild after the habitat has recovered sufficiently to receive them. A short-term management plan was drafted by the three parties to assist in the management of this captive population. The future of the Elandsberg Geometric Tortoise population looks bleak and this catastrophe has pushed this species to the brink of extinction in the wild. A Biodiversity Management Plan will be drafted in an attempt to assist authorities to secure the future of the Geometric Tortoise.
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