1. Conservationists at the Turtle Conservancy’s Behler Chelonian Center in Ventura County, Calif., have been purposely defacing the endangered ploughshare tortoise, ABC reports.
2. Defacing the shells helps to deter poachers by making the tortoise shells, which go for tens of thousands of dollars on the black market, less attractive. It also helps conservationists keep track of them.
3. Since the practice of defacing shells began in 2011, these turtles’ shells haven’t turned up on the black market. It’s estimated that there are only about 100 to 300 ploughshare turtles left, according to Eric Goode of the Turtle Conservancy.
4. Engraving the shell isn’t comfortable for the tortoise and can sometimes be painful, so conservationists are careful not to drill into the bone of the shell.
Paul Gibbons (left), with assistance from Armando Jimenez, uses a drill tool to deface the golden domes of two ploughshare tortoises in Los Angeles.
5. But it’s small price to pay to save these adorable faces!
Darcy Gamble of the Turtle Conservancy’s Behler Chelonian Center in Los Angeles touches Daphnia, a rescued tortoise, while talking about ways to reduce their value on the black market.
6. Learn more about the tortoises at the Turtle Conservancy’s Behler Chelonian Center.
- Greece has a new finance minister after Yanis Varoufakis resigned on Monday following the country's "no" vote on austerity measures tied to further bailout funds.
- The South Carolina Senate is debating a bill calling for the removal of the Confederate battle flag from statehouse grounds.
- More than 1 million people are expected to attend Pope Francis' mass in Ecuador on Monday.