A new tour offers visitors a chance to learn about the endangered Myanmar star tortoise. Through a conservation and captive breeding programme, these endangered creatures are being protected and returned to nature.
The star tortoise gets its name from a beautiful yellow star pattern set against a background of brown on its carapace. It is of medium size, with a 28 cm shell, and is a favourite among turtle fanciers. Long harvested for food by local peoples, as well as for traditional medicine markets in southern China, the star tortoise is an endangered species originating from the dry zone in Myanmar and is in urgent need of protection.
The Minsone Taung Wildlife Sanctuary, located in the Nahtogyi Township area right between Bagan and Mandalay, has been doing an excellent job in breeding these tortoises and reintroducing them to the wild.
On this tour, you will be taken to this simple but unique project. Walk with rangers through the forest (altogether about 1 – 1.5 hours) with a tracking device to locate some of the tortoises in the wild and get a glimpse inside the breeding centre to see more tortoises. The visitor centre is filled with informative materials and looks over a tortoise breeding enclosure, planted with native flora and enhanced with artificial shelters and water holes that mimic those found in nature.
Each visit to the centre supports this important work. A visit to the star tortoise farm can be included during and overland drive between Bagan and Mandalay.