The Geometric Tortoise, native to South Africa’s Western Cape, is one of the world’s most striking tortoise species. Some people have even called it the “Fabergé egg” of tortoises. It’s also one of the world’s most endangered reptiles. Fewer than 1,000 individual tortoises remain in the wild.
Much of this decline has come from habitat loss. Expanding agriculture and urban areas have decimated almost 95% of the species habitat. Cape Town — one of the largest metropolitan areas in South Africa — is also in the Western Cape. That puts the ecosystem under immense pressure from Cape Town’s growth. In addition, vineyards and ranches cover much of the land near the preserve. Without conservation, this land would likely go towards the wine and cattle industries.