Specific Threats to Tortoises in Israel
ABSTRACT OF PRESENTATION
ELI GEFFEN and HEINRICH MENDELSSOHN
Faculty of life Sciences, Tel Aviv University, Ramat Aviv 69978, Israel
The main threats to the continued survival of both tortoise species in Israel are agricultural and urban development, which are continually destroying natural habitats. The southern subspecies of Testudo graeca (T. g. floweri*) has already disappeared, as its entire range is now being farmed or planted with eucalyptus trees. The future of the widespread T. g. terrestris is ensured by a number of nature reserves in the Mediterranean area. A large (220 km) nature reserve, Holot Agur, is planned for Testudo kleinmanni and for other psammophilous fauna, but it has yet to be finally approved, and developers are fiercely opposing the size of this reserve (Mendelssohn, 1982; Mendelssohn and Geffen, 1987; Stubbs, 1989a, 1989b). Trade in tortoises is completely forbidden in Israel, but Testudo graeca may be collected as personal pets. Testudo kleinmanni is completely protected.
*T. g. floweri has not been widely accepted as a subspecies.
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