Endangered pancake tortoise discovered at Lewa Conservancy
Published on: November 15, 2019 02:35 (EAT)
A small population of the critically endangered Pancake tortoise was recently discovered at the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. In the first-ever effort to establish the occurrence of the endangered species, seven Pancake tortoises were found. “Even though this discovery is significantly part of the protection status of LWC the population of Pancake tortoise is isolated and there is a need to further studies to determine its viability,” said Geoffrey Chege, Head of Conservation and Wildlife at Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. Based on past studies, the October discovery extends the distribution range of the species in Kenya. Majority of the distribution lies within the arid and semi-arid areas from Marsabit County southwards to Kitui County. The Pancake tortoise whose scientific name is Malacochersus tornieri is among the six land tortoises found in East Africa. It is unique in its own morphology: small size, dorso-ventrally flattened and with a soft shell that allows them to live in narrow rock crevices. Due to specialized habitat needs, the distribution of pancake tortoise is restricted and patchy. The tortoise population was recorded from four out of 14 potential sites identified during the study. Populations have also been recorded in Tanzania and Zambia and it is considered that geology, vegetation, altitude and climate are the main factors that limit their distribution.