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How Tortoises Contribute to Reforestation

By 28 March 2023October 24th, 2023No Comments

Since 1970, the Amazon has lost 18% of its surface, which is twice the size of France, and everywhere else forests are threatened by the hand of man or natural disasters.

This was the case in France this summer, during which 62’000 hectares of forest burned, endangering the already endangered Hermann’s tortoises. But it is with this same animal species that scientists are turning to contribute to the reforestation of endangered forests.

Forest exploitation


Indeed, on Mauritius, the giant tortoises of Aldabra play the role of disseminator of seeds of plants and trees like Ebony trees thanks to their feces, after having eaten their fruits.

Even better, their dissemination is greater and it seems that the passage through their intestine has contributed to making the germination of these seeds even more efficient.

A giant tortoises of Aldabra


Other scientists have analyzed the effects of red-footed tortoises (Chelonoidis Carbonarius) and yellow-footed tortoises (Chelonoidis Denticulatus) on the reforestation of the Amazon and here again, the results are encouraging.

The tortoises act in different areas depending on the location of the fruits they like to eat and the main beneficiary plants are from both small seeds (on average 8.5 mm) and large seeds as giant tortoises can consume seeds up to 25 mm wide.

The tortoises have thus disseminated and allowed the regrowth of plants of the family of Ficus, Genipa, Brosimums, Jacaracias, Spondias, Syagrus Oleracea or Palm trees. In sum, their presence in the Amazonian forest has allowed to disperse up to 95 plants, thus 84 species of plants are directly threatened with extinction by deforestation.

                                   A Red-Footed Tortoise                A Yellow-Footed Tortoise

Tortoises are thus a sustainable and natural solution to the reforestation of plants and trees in danger of extinction.

However, we must not forget that many tortoises are also threatened by deforestation itself and the destruction of their habitats but also because of hunting and poaching of which they are victims.