The reptiles were seized from smugglers in Singapore back in 2018.
Twelve endangered Indian star tortoises (Geochelone elegans) that were rescued from smugglers in Singapore back in November 2018 were released back into the wild by Wildlife SOS and India's Karnataka Forest Department, according to the Times of India. The 12 were from a batch of 51 that were found fit for transport. These tortoises were part of a group recovered during the smuggling attempt.
The Indian star tortoise is listed as vulnerable by the IUCN.
Each of the 12 tortoises were outfitted with satellite tags on their carapaces to track their movements so scientists can retrieve them at later dates to take measurements, learn about their health, body weight, behavior patterns and other behaviors.
“The star tortoises were first released in a specially enclosure as a part of the soft release procedure to prepare the animals for the final release into the wild," Dr Arun. A. Sha, Director- Research and Veterinary Operations, Wildlife SOS told the Times of India. "This was a crucial time as we had to allow the star tortoises to get acclimatized to the transmitters on their backs. This project will help us study their feeding ecology and to identify their preferred microhabitats in this region."
In the United States, the Indian star tortoise has been widely captive-bred for many years. The reptile is protected in its natural range in India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. It is a threatened species listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.