YANGON, Aug. 23 (Xinhua) -- The population of endangered Myanmar star tortoise has increased to 2,072 in the Shwesettaw Wildlife Sanctuary of west-central Myanmar's Magway Region, according to an official from the wildlife sanctuary.
"Starting with six Myanmar star tortoises in 1999, by now, there are 2,072 star tortoises bred in captivity of our wildlife sanctuary," U Aung San, head of the Shwesettaw Wildlife Sanctuary, told Xinhua on Tuesday.
The total number included over 700 star tortoises born this year. Apart from the tortoises bred in captivity, over 2,000 star tortoises were also reintroduced into the wild, the official said.
"We release the tortoises into the wild when they become adult," he said, adding that the species becomes adult when they turn two to three years old.
Yadanabon Zoological Garden, Lawkananda Wildlife Sanctuary and Minsontaung Wildlife Sanctuary in Mandalay are also currently engaged in a captive-breeding program to increase the population of the critically endangered species, he said.
Illegal hunting and poaching, illegal trading and deforestation are the main reasons for the star tortoises being critically endangered, the official said.
The Myanmar star tortoise, which has bumps on its shell that look like stars, is native to dry and deciduous forests of Myanmar, he added. ■