Distribution: Central Asia.
Conservation Status: Vulnerable.
Population: 1,000,000+. The Russian tortoise, also commonly known as Horsfield's tortoise or the Central Asian tortoise, is a threatened species of tortoise. Human activities in its native habitat contribute to its threatened status. The Russian tortoise is a small tortoise species, with a size range of 13–25 cm (5–10 in). Females grow slightly larger (15–25 cm [6–10 in]) to accommodate more eggs. Males average 13–20 cm (5–8 in). They are herbivores and feed on weeds and wild flowers. The Afghan tortoise is found from the Caspian Sea southward through Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and eastward through Kazakhstan to Xinjiang, China. The Russian tortoise is native to arid, barren habitats such as rocky deserts and hillsides, as well as sandy steppes and grassy areas close to springs. Winters in these environments can be particularly harsh and cold, with temperatures in much of the tortoise’s range well below freezing. In some parts of its expansive range, the Russian tortoise has been heavily exploited for food by local people as well as for the pet trade. Between 1965 and 1971, 119,319 specimens of this species were imported into the United Kingdom alone. In addition, habitat destruction and degradation due to warfare, farming, livestock grazing and development have all contributed to the decline of this species, and its future looks increasingly uncertain. The Russian tortoise’s listing on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) helps regulate the numbers of this species that can be exported. However, CITES quotas still permit Uzbekistan to export 40,000 wild-caught specimens a year. Stabilization of the political climate and education of local peoples would contribute to a more promising future for the Russian tortoise. #tortoise #russiantortoise #tortoisesofinstagram #illegalwildlifetrade #conservation #wildlifeconservation #wildlife #poaching #illegalwildlifetrade #exoticpettrade #endpoaching #reptiles #savetherussiantortoise #endangeredanimals #endangeredspecies