IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


20th January, 2023 Environment

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Context: Indian star tortoise faces twin challenges of habitat loss and genetic diversity, finds study


  • The species is facing twin challenges of a threat to its habitat at one level and loss of its genetic diversity at the other.
  • The calls for a proper conservation strategy to combat the fragmented distribution and explicitly recommends intensive genetic screening of founder individuals or isolated adult colonies by implementing scientific breeding


  • KINGDOM: Animalia
  • PHYLUM: Chordata
  • SUBPHYLUM: Vertebrata
  • CLASS: Reptilia
  • ORDER: Testudines
  • SUBORDER: Cryptodira
  • SUPERFAMILY: Testudinoidea
  • FAMILY: Testudinidae
  • GENUS: Geochelone
  • SPECIES: Geochelone elegans


  • The Indian star tortoise (Geochelone elegans ) is a threatened tortoise species native to India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka where it inhabits dry areas and scrub forest.
  • It has been listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List since 2016, as the population is thought to comprise more than 10,000 individuals, but with a declining trend.
  • It is threatened by habitat loss and poaching for the illegal wildlife trade.
  • It was upgraded to CITES Appendix I in 2019 by full consensus among all member states, giving it the highest level of international protection from commercial trade.
  • Conservation group TRAFFIC found 6,040 were seized globally that were intended to be sold in the pet trade.
  • LIFE SPAN: 25-80 YRS
  • LENGTH: 15-38 CM
  • Crepuscular
  • Herbivore, Folivore , Frugivore
  • Terrestrial
  • Precocial
  • Polygynandry
  • Solitary
  • Not a migrant

Map showing the distribution of  Geochelone elegans.