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Conservation Status of South African Land Tortoises, with Special Reference to the Geometric Tortoise

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The geometric tortoise, Psammobates geometricus(L.), is one of eleven South African species. It is confined to the south-west Cape region. A 7.5 ha reserve of natural veld was established near Paarl in 1972. By 1976, 80P. geometricus and by 1980,170P. geometricus and 94 Homopus areolatus(THUNBERG) had been marked, work on the latter starting in 1979. The tortoise population was estimated at 260 ca. 10 ha-1), half being P. geometricus. Twenty P. geometricus were lost to predators, a bush-cutting machine and emigration. Twelve further P. geometricus areas have been identified, two of which have been formed into reserves. A large (3 000 ha) private nature reserve established in 1973 north ofPaarl hold the largest surviving population.

Affiliations: 1: Cape Department of Nature and Environmental Conservation, Jonkershoek Nature Conservation Sta-tion, Private Bag 5014, Stellenbosch, 7600, South Africa


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