Threatened tortoises, and a top ten testimony

Fellow conservationists,

I couldn’t help but bring yet another article to your attention.

Further proof that our support is used in the best ways possible and that any donations we make goes towards saving 50% of the top ten reptile and amphibian species benefiting from zoos.

The herpetology department at Durrell and its head, Matt Goetz work incredibly hard and all of their efforts are making genuine differences. Once again Durrell comes up trumps!

Click the tab below to view the article.


Henry first met Matt Goetz, along with some of the critically endangered ploughshare tortoises that feature in the BIAZA list, earlier this year. The moment was captured in the video below.

Durrell is conserving five of the top ten reptiles and amphibians surviving because of zoos, according to a new report.

By Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust


Durrell and local partners in Madagascar work tirelessly to protect the beautiful, yet Critically Endangered ploughshare tortoise

The British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA), which promotes the values of good zoos and aquariums, has compiled a list of the top ten reptile and amphibian species benefitting from help in their conservation by zoos and aquariums in the UK and Ireland.

Home to five of the species on the list, the komodo dragon, mountain chicken frog, orange tailed skink, ploughshare tortoise and Round Island boa, Durrell plays a hugely significant role in helping safeguard the future of these species and has initiated and is leading projects with four of the selected Top Ten.

Matt Goetz, Head of Herpetology Department at Durrell said, “The recent Top Ten list is an excellent way of highlighting and promoting some of the conservation activities good zoos are carrying out.

Here at Durrell we have pioneered the approach to link and support field conservation programmes with breeding projects in our herpetological department. Having developed and lead four conservation projects included in the TopTen and collaborating in a fifth, gives testimony to our strategy; saving species from extinction is possible and needs to be taken seriously for the benefit of all of us. Of course, none of this would be possible without the help of the public and the many donations we receive.”

Dr Andrew Marshall, of BIAZA’s Field Programmes Committee, who co-ordinated the compilation of the list with input from conservation experts based at BIAZA collections, said: “Zoos are part of a global conservation community. Last year, BIAZA published a report on the top ten mammals most reliant on zoos, which highlighted the work being done by zoos to help safeguard their future. This year, we have focused on ten prevailing examples of reptiles and amphibians that zoos are working to save from extinction.

The list includes some fantastic species, many of which are facing a dramatic decline and are in a desperate situation in the wild.”


Durrell and partners recently released 51 Critically Endangered mountain chicken frogs back into their native Montserrat

Strict criteria were used to select the top ten. All the reptiles and amphibians proposed had to be associated with current field initiatives by zoos and/or essential conservation breeding in zoos. Particular importance was given to initiatives which included a management role in the species’ conservation, rather than just providing funds. Priority was also given to species listed as threatened on the international IUCN Red List of threatened species.

The top ten list demonstrates the importance of zoos and aquariums not only for conservation breeding of safety-net populations, but also for their contribution to funding and management of conservation projects in the field, including research, education and support for local communities, as well as protection of crucial wildlife habitats.


The orange-tailed skink is a key component in Mauritian island ecosystems. Both the lizard and the islands have been restored as a result of captive breeding efforts.

BIAZA’s top ten reptiles and amphibians most reliant on zoos are:

Axolotl – this Critically Endangered amphibian retains a tadpole-like appearance even as an adult and has the extraordinary ability to regenerate limbs.

Golden mantella – These Critically Endangered frogs don’t croak! Instead males attract females by a series of clicking noises. This bright yellow frog is known for attempting to eat anything that can fit in their mouth, even if the taste is repulsive.

Komodo dragon – there are less than 1000 left in the wild. They are the largest living lizard with males growing up to 3m in length and up to 90kg and females can if necessary reproduce on their own.

Lemur leaf frog – due to massive habitat loss and the effects of chytrid fungus, this species’ range and its population has declined by over 80% over recent years. An adult lemur frog is only 3 to 4 cm long, it could fit on the end of your finger.

Round Island boa

The Round Island boa is an apex predator on Mascarene islands. It has been bred in Jersey since the 1970’s, and released back into its habitat.

Round Island boa – one of the very few snake species that can change its colour, restricted to one tiny island.

Morelet’s leaf frog – these striking lime-green frogs with a pink or orange underbelly are rapidly disappearing as their forest habitat is destroyed. They have incredible jet black eyes with no discernable iris and wide webbing between their toes which allows them to parachute between trees.

Mountain chicken – one of the largest frogs in the world, this Critically Endangered species is known as a mountain chicken as it was commonly hunted for food.

Orange-tailed skink – these beautifully coloured and highly endangered skinks are not easily found and would be extinct if it weren’t for the help of zoos.

Ploughshare tortoise – one of the most sought after reptiles in the illegal pet trade, this Critically Endangered and rarest tortoise in the world can live up to 100 years.

Sand lizard – one of the UK’s rarest and most protected lizards.

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  32 comments for “Threatened tortoises, and a top ten testimony

  1. Celine
    September 16, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    Dear Henry,
    Very interesting article. Thank you for the sharing. A great deal of excellent work has been done by Durrell Wildlife. It is an honor and a privilege to donate to such a worthy cause. I wish that to continue for our planet.
    I hope I can visit the Durrell Wildlife Park and Jersey someday.
    Good luck for the Gibraltar Rock Run and I think of you for the shooting of Batman v Superman and more.
    Thank you again for the dreams so sweet.

    Love from France,


  2. Christina Boyd
    September 16, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    Henry dahling, Love that you are using your celebrity to bring attention to such a worthy cause –and you not only support a project that impacts an effort from your home on Jersey Islands but global ecology. Well done! @xtnaboyd

  3. Marlen LaBianco
    September 16, 2014 at 3:10 pm

    Oh Henry! Loved the video – loved seeing a quick shot of a veiled chameleon – i had two a few years ago and they’re amazing creatures. Holding the tortoise looked fun as well! Keep up the great work you and your group are doing. We will keep supporting you with funds too!
    Love always,

    Marlen from Florida, USA (@CAASisters)

  4. Melanie Robinson
    September 16, 2014 at 3:12 pm

    Hi Henry,

    Such a shame the engraving has to be done , but I can see why . Durrell wildlife is amazing and I hope one day to visit . Love what your doing we need more places like this. It is nice to know that someone is passionate about saving the wildlife before it dissappears . Well done for what you are doing and good luck for the future.

    Lots of love and luck from the UK
    Mel xx

  5. Angie Morris
    September 16, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing with us Henry & team. I really enjoyed it. Well done I will donate very soon I promise :)

  6. Linda Smith
    September 16, 2014 at 4:10 pm

    Thank you Henry for sharing this with us! I’m learning so much from Durrell that I hadn’t known before. It’s my honor to donate to such a worthwhile cause.
    (New Jersey, USA)

  7. NicolaJayne Coonan @CAASisters
    September 16, 2014 at 4:57 pm

    Henry, as always you astound me with how you find time to fit all this into your schedule! You truly are a Superman!
    Thank you for using your celebrity status to bring to light this fantastic organisation, all they do and all that still needs to be done to help these endangered animals.
    Best of luck with the Gibraltar rock run! Proud to be apart of #CavillConservation family!

  8. Rowena Schulzer
    September 16, 2014 at 4:57 pm

    Dearest Henry and Team,
    It’s a delight to know that efforts in conserving the life of wild animals are being made. It is even more a delight that Henry is involving himself for a just cause. Seeing Henry surrounded by those kinds of animals (yes, I’ve seen a lot of reptiles & amphibians) reminds me of my childhood. Especially, with the turtle & bats. The only difference is, in my childhood, they live freely. Now a days, I only seemed to see them in a protected environment. Which is such a shame. I hope one day, future generation would be able to see and enjoy them in their natural habitats. With organizations as Durrell, there is hope. A donation will be made soon. It will be a privilege to support Henry and his cause and an honor to help Durrell in my own little way.
    Rowena Schulzer from The Netherlands.

  9. September 16, 2014 at 4:58 pm

    I’m so happy to see Henry himself posting. I feel close to him!

  10. September 16, 2014 at 5:15 pm

    I’d like to add that I created this fanpage dedicated to Henry in portuguese, and so people here in Brazil can also be aware of his campaign to raise funds to help Durrel…

    • Janaina Caldana
      September 18, 2014 at 6:40 pm

      Finalmente!!!!!!! Acompanho a página sobre o Henry é uma pena que não existam mais em português.Parabéns pela iniciativa.Tenho um grupo fechado no face chamado Always Henry Cavill!!!!!!!

    • October 25, 2014 at 11:33 pm

      Henry, o Brasil está orgulhoso de você, é um verdadeiro super heroi!
      Henry, Brazil is proud of you, is a real super hero!

      Concordo com você Marcos, ver o Henry postando nos deixa ainda mais orgulhosos de seu trabalho, mostra total dedicação. Isso é incrível!
      I agree with you Marcos, see Henry posting makes us even more proud of their work, shows total dedication. This is amazing!

  11. Christian Ruiz
    September 16, 2014 at 5:44 pm

    This is great, I love tortoises and I feel sad that people use them for trading. It shouldn’t be like that. This is the real Superman, saving the world. These animals can’t talk, but we thank you.

  12. beatriz
    September 16, 2014 at 6:56 pm

    Your such a darling. I love animals too:)

  13. Carolyn Pete
    September 16, 2014 at 7:57 pm

    I never saw a tortoise like that before -cute little thing .So sad that it can’t live a quiet life in the wild .Thanks for bringing attention to it and the efforts to continue saving them

  14. September 16, 2014 at 8:51 pm

    Dear Henry,Thank you so much for sharing. Very interesting article, this is great how nicely you care about zoo park ,You’re the right Superman with a good heart, our inspiration and great love .Thank you so much, God bless you ,Good luck on Gibrartar Rock Run ! Eva from Czech Republic Prague !

  15. Cora Lee
    September 17, 2014 at 12:09 am

    Your love and concern for animals shows you are beautiful inside and out. Thank you!

  16. September 17, 2014 at 12:40 am

    Hi, Henry,

    Thank you for bringing awareness to Durrell Wildlife’s work. I love your choices of the charities you support! Because of the spotlight you bring to this Organization, I am happy to help out. I hope you will bring us more videos of the endangered species at Durrell. And I send wishes for great success in the Gibraltar Rock run; I know you will do SUPER well and serve as an inspiration for so many.

  17. Angela M
    September 17, 2014 at 2:14 am

    This is a very nice heartwarming article concerning the preservation of the reptiles/amphibians and I love the video too…especially holding the turtle. <3 Henry's relationship with Durrell and the animals is so special and a beautiful thing to see all the video clips and pics. You can feel a huge spirit of LOVE with everything going on there. Thanks so much for sharing…really love SuperCav-El and his great big heart. <3 <3 <3

  18. Karen Lawrence
    September 17, 2014 at 2:56 am


    Thanks for sharing the video and article. I’m learning so much about wildlife conservation, thanks to you. Your charitable work protecting endangered species is inspiring. I am proud to be a part of the Durrell Wildlife and #CavillConservation family. Best of luck in all you do!

    Love always,

    (Brooklyn, New York)

  19. September 17, 2014 at 8:11 am

    You’re amazing, Henry. I’m a fan very proud of you!!!!


    (Barcelona, Catalonia/Spain)

  20. September 17, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    Dear Henry,
    being an animal lover myself I am truly impressed by the article and the time that you take our of your busy schedule to promote such a worthy cause. Turtles are one of my favorite animals and it must have been exciting to hold one. Thank you again for sharing and we continue to help support you and the Durrell Wildlife family.

    September 17, 2014 at 3:35 pm

    Good after noon Henry, bonjour Henry,

    Wonderful engagement that animals’ cause and to help the Durrell Wildlife Family. Do you read this message ??!! I don’t kwnow? At the present time, you are very busy by the filming at Detroit(USA)!!
    About this engagement, I’m going to send a mail bye the post-mail to agency of London. I hope you receip that.
    Great go on (bonne continuation)
    take care Henry;

  22. Iris
    September 17, 2014 at 7:58 pm

    Hello Henry,

    Henry, you are amazing in every way. I’m very proud of you.


  23. Leann Jones
    September 18, 2014 at 1:25 am

    It seems as though every day u do something amazing just becuz that’s who u are! Please never change as that is what makes u truly a SUPERman!! I’ve happily adopted into the family and also sent support for the Gibraltar run….much love and best wishes…Leann in Indiana

  24. September 18, 2014 at 3:29 am

    Hi! Its amazing what you do, good to see you care about animals. We must care for and protect them. Thank you so much! I promise to cooperate.
    Kisses from Argentina.

  25. Janaina Caldana
    September 18, 2014 at 6:42 pm

    Excelente iniciativa por parte do Henry Cavill,mais do que um rosto bonito um excelente ator e conciente de seu papel não só dentro dos estúdios de gravação como fora dele!!!!!!!!!!

  26. September 18, 2014 at 10:29 pm

    Dear Henry,

    Hi how are you? I hope you’re doing well. My name is Rawan Zubaid and I am from Kuwait. I’ve been a fan of yours ever since I saw you in the Count of Monte Cristo. I’ve seen almost all of your movies, my absolute favorite one is Man of Steel I’ve seen that movie eight times and absolutely love it! I think you are amazing, an absolutely amazing person and actor and a true gentleman. I’m extremely proud of the man you have become, you are a true testament to the wonderful people of Jersey and most importantly you’re a reflection on how amazing your family and parents are. It fills my heart with joy to know that you come from such a wonderful place, I hope that one day I will be able to visit.

    I want to thank you for the amazing things you have done for me, because of you my life has changed for the better and I will always be grateful to you for that. I have met the most wonderful people who are also fans of yours that have become really amazing and wonderful friends that I will love and cherish forever, but most importantly you’re my inspiration to keep doing my physical therapy. I have a condition called Cerebral Palsy and I have to do physical therapy at least twice a week, but sometimes it becomes really tiring and I used to always give up before, you know I’d start physical therapy then I’d stop after a few months because I’d just get bored of it, but ever since I saw what you did for Man of Steel to become Superman I haven’t quit my physical therapy once and it’s been over a year that I’ve been going and I’m seeing some really wonderful results in my strength and capabilities. I really want to thank you for being my inspiration, you have no idea how much you helped me, there were times where I wanted to quit but I’d keep remembering what you had to go through to become Superman and I kept thinking to myself if you could do it then so can I, that I’m just as strong as you and that I shouldn’t quit because this is my future and if I can’t take care of myself then nobody is going to take care of me!

    So for this and so many other things I thank you, you have truly changed my life in so many ways that the word thank you doesn’t seem enough for what you’ve done for me. You are a true blessing and I’m truly honored and proud to be a fan of yours. I am so happy to help you out in all of your charitable endeavours, it is the least that I can do after everything that you have done for me, you not only care about your fans but you care about animals and people too! You are truly an amazing person God bless you, your family and the wonderful people of Jersey.

    I wish you all the best in life. I wish you health, wealth, success, happiness and most of all love. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this letter I really appreciate it. I can’t wait to see your new movies I’m very excited to see you on the big screen again. Take care, stay safe and always remember that you are special and that you are loved and that you’re perfect just the way you are. Best of luck on your Gibraltar Rockrun we’re all behind you and we’re all rooting for you to succeed.

    Love always,
    Rawan X

    P.S To all the wonderful people of the Durrell Wildlife Park please keep up your amazing work in trying to save these wondrous and gorgeous animals, I hope to one day soon come and visit so I can check on the gorilla family that I adopted I hope that they are all doing well.All the best to everyone involved in saving these gorgeous animals.

  27. Chris
    October 8, 2014 at 9:21 pm

    Hi all, I´d like to join the conservationism. Which is a serious cause, in both the biological and social sense. Because diversion is the sure way to progress. Being focused on one animal or thought, even if it is the strongest/best, is good for knowing it better and emulate, but attending differences makes the real progress. :) Seending the best.

  28. May 4, 2016 at 2:50 am

    Super iniciative. Thank you to help the beautiful nature in health way and harmony. 😉

  29. Eveli Brito
    May 15, 2016 at 12:41 am

    It´s amaizing and fantastic, Henry! Iam happy when I see work like that around the world. Gratitude!!!

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