Meet the elongated tortoises (Indotestudo elongata) of Lawachara National Park! These handsome little tortoises are rapidly disappearing from forests across Southeast Asia and are now listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List Bangladesh. Despite their conservation status, very little is known about their ecological needs. Scant data exists concerning their habitat use, home range size, and movement and activity patterns.
In Bangladesh, Indotestudo elongata occurs in the mixed-evergreen forest of Sylhet and Chittagong Divisions, where its most immediate threat is subsistence hunting. Population density levels of Indotestudo elongata in most of Bangladesh are now low enough that local extinctions are imminent without intervention and population reinforcement. With this threat in mind, we are looking at ways to re-establish local elongated tortoise populations through a release program.
We’ve initiated an intensive radio-telemetry monitoring study of released elongated tortoises, tracking both resident and translocated individuals in Lawachara National Park to understand their home range, habitat use, survivorship, and movement and activity patterns. This data will be crucial in determining whether population reinforcement is a viable strategy to ensure the long-term survival of this forest-dwelling species. This study is just one aspect of our interdisciplinary approach to save these endangered turtles from disappearing from their ancient homelands.