Enhancing Conservation of Critically Endangered Pancake Tortoises (Malacochersus tornieri) through Conservation Education and Community Awareness in Northern Tanzania

Rehema Ulimboka

The Pancake tortoise (Malacochersus tornieri) is an East African Endemic species of land tortoise that in Tanzania is known to have its distribution scattered discontinuously from the south-eastern shores of Lake Victoria to the Maasai Steppe and southward to Ruaha National Park (Malonza, 2003). The preferred micro-habitats of the pancake tortoise are associated with scattered rocky hills, outcrops and kopjes, mainly outside of the government-protected areas (Eustace et al., 2021). In northern Tanzania, small hills in the Vilima Vitatu village located outside Tarangire National Park within the Tarangire-Manyara Ecosystem (TME) is a home for the critically endangered pancake tortoise (Kisingo et al., 2022).


However, the existence of the target species in the area is still threatened by heavy exploitation for the exotic pet trade and habitat loss due to anthropogenic activities (Mwaya et al., 2018). Until now, no adequate conservation efforts have been directed towards ensuring the long-term existence of the pancake tortoise in the Vilima Vitatu hills. This calls for urgent site-specific conservation efforts to safeguard its population. According to Kisingo et al. (2022), the conservation of critically endangered pancake tortoises can be achieved through conservation education and awareness raising at the community level in order to improve people’s awareness of pancake tortoises and promote equitable management strategies that allow people to live alongside the species and mitigate the risk of extinction.

Therefore, this study aims to enhance the conservation of critically endangered pancake tortoises through conservation education and community awareness in the project area in Babati District of Manyara region, northern Tanzania. Specifically, this project will accomplish the following goals:

i) To assess potential anthropogenic threats that may affect the conservation of pancake tortoise in the project area.

ii) To evaluate the perception and awareness of the surrounding communities towards conservation of the study species in the project site.

iii) To create awareness of the surrounding communities towards conservation of the critically endangered pancake tortoise in the study area.

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