An ambitious project of the Kerala Forest Department at the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary (CWS) to rehabilitate Indian star tortoises ( Geochelone elegans ) seized from smugglers has turned into a major success. This makes the CWS the only rehabilitation centre for star tortoises in the country.
The CWS is the only place in Kerala where star tortoises are known to occur in the wild.
The natural food preferences of star tortoises were identified and found to include a herb locally known asthazhuthama , and a particular variety of cactus found abundantly inside the CWS.
The Indian star tortoise is a threatened species of tortoise found in dry areas and scrub forest in India and Sri Lanka. This species is quite popular in the exotic pet trade, which is the main reason it is endangered.
Since 1975, this species has been included on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
The species was placed under Schedule IV of the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972.