A project of Wildlife Survival Fund: Investing in endangered species before it’s too late.



Geographic Location

Zaranik Protected Area, North Sinai, Egypt

Focal Species

Egyptian tortoise

IUCN Red List Status of Focal Species


About the Project

A local community and science based approach to conserving the critically endangered Egyptian tortoise

The Egyptian tortoise is one of the smallest, most endangered, and least studied tortoises in the world. The main threats to the Egyptian tortoise in Egypt is overgrazing by livestock, removal of woody vegetation by local people, and pet collection. The long-term survival of the Egyptian tortoise requires addressing these threats. This project takes a multiple approach strategy to the conservation of the Egyptian tortoise. The local Bedouin community is heavily involved in this project by patrolling for wildlife collectors, while also collecting scientific data to study the effectiveness of habitat restoration on Egyptian tortoise populations, translocations as a conservation technique to augment small populations, and the long-term dynamics of the population. As a result of the local community approach, three new small populations outside the boundaries of Zaranik Protected Area, North Sinai, Egypt have been discovered. A translocation study has also been completed to determine the most effective methods for reintroduction. This multidimensional approach to Egyptian tortoise conservation allows the project to test the effectiveness of management decisions, addresses direct threats to the Egyptian tortoise, and provides a local community with a more sustainable form of employment than collecting wildlife.

Since Egypt’s revolution, Zaranik Protected Area has experienced many threats.  Some local communities have seized protected land and established salt factories.  These typically occur in the flooded plains of Lake Bardawil.  While these activities do not directly threaten the Egyptian tortoise, the shrinking of the protected area and increased vehicular traffic is cause for concern.  Remarkably, despite all the disturbances, none of the tortoise populations or their habitat have experienced any harm or degradation.  The local community guards still collect data and monitor the tortoise populations despite the unrest.



Egyptian Tortoises at Woodland Park Zoo
Woodland Park Zoo is a leading conservation breeding institution for Egyptian tortoises, having hatched more than 75 tortoises through our successful program. Look for tortoises on view in the zoo’s Day Exhibit.


To learn more:

Read the Egyptian tortoise fact sheet