It’s too bad that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are just comic book and TV characters, because some of their kin could use a little of their superhero powers. Learn how unscrupulous villains have put some turtles on the list of all-but-extinct species.
If you thought that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the superheroes of the elementary school set, were rare, hear this: According to a report out earlier this year, one species of turtles has only five members still alive, and 25 other species around the world are almost extinct, too. One species has only one member left alive.
The bad guys in this drama are hunters, illegal pet traders and people who like to dine on rare turtle soup. The good guys—worthy to don the garb of the famous Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle team—are members of the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Turtle Conservation Coalition, who work together to identify and protect rare turtles of the world.
On the “Endangered Turtle” list:
- “Lonesome George,” population: 1. This is the sole surviving Abingdon Island giant tortoise, discovered in the 1970s in the Galapagos Islands.
- Yangtze giant soft-shell turtle, population: 4
- Red River Giant Soft-shell Turtle, population: 4
- Zhou’s Box Turtle, population: ?. Though found in markets in China, no one’s reported seeing this guy in the wild.
But the news isn’t all bad. The Burmese roofed turtle, once thought extinct, now numbers in the 400s, thanks to conservation efforts. The next few decades will be critical to saving the 25 turtles on the list from extinction, experts say.
Learn more about the "Turtles in Trouble" report by the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Turtle Conservation Coalition. And watch for an upcoming blog post about just how amazing these large creatures can be.
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