WCS 3-Sentence Science

Burmese Star Tortoises Get a Clean Bill of Health

November 22, 2019


Each year, Wildlife Conservation Society scientists publish more than 300 peer-reviewed studies and papers. “WCS 3-Sentence Science” is a regular tip-sheet — in bite sized helpings — of some of this published work.

Here we present work by WCS’s Zoological Health, Myanmar, and Turtle Conservation programs on the health of Burmese star tortoises prior to their introduction to the wild from assurance colonies.

  1. The once abundant Burmese star tortoise (Geochelone platynota) was functionally extirpated from Myanmar largely due to exploitation for wildlife trade markets, but saved through ex situ captive assurance colonies where approximately 14,000 individuals have been raised between 2004 and 2018.
  2. Researchers performed health assessments on 539 tortoises prior to their reintroduction to screen for the presence of Mycoplasma spp., ranavirus, herpesvirus, and the intranuclear coccidian parasite of Testudines.
  3. Such health assessments are important to generate baseline information about potential circulating organisms or pathogens, and ensure the success of repatriation projects by both assuring that potential pathogens associated with disease are not inadvertently introduced into the wild, and that individuals slated for release are healthy enough to weather the rigors of reintroduction.

Study and Journal: “Health screening of Burmese star tortoises (Geochelone platynota) prior to introduction to the wild” from Chelonian Conservation and Biology
WCS Co-Author(s): Bonnie Raphael (Lead), WCS Zoological Health Program; Steve Platt, WCS Myanmar Program; Tracie Seimon, WCS Zoological Health Program; Brian Horne, WCS Turtle Conservation Program.

For more information, contact: Stephen Sautner, 718–220–3682, ssautner@wcs.org.

WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature.