The chelonian fauna of Togo (West Africa) has been scarcely studied to date. In this article, we review and summarize all available data on the distribution, ecology, and conservation status of the chelonian species of Togo and present a short historical perspective on the development of studies on these reptiles. Overall, 13 chelonian species are found in Togo, 4 being marine, 3 terrestrial, and 6 freshwater. Among the marine species, only 2 of them nest on Togolese beaches (Lepidochelys olivacea and Dermochelys coriacea). Two species (Chelonia mydas and L. olivacea) are still locally common. Concerning the terrestrial and freshwater species, they differed remarkably in terms of their distribution by ecological zone. Cluster analyses revealed the existence of 3 clusters of species, 1 that contains the “forest” species, 1 accommodating the Sudanese savannah species, and a third cluster for the generalist savannah species. The conservation status of the various species and their dissimilarities in terms of threat score categories were assessed through a multivariate model following published work on African chelonian species in general. The results of this model indicate that the potentially most threatened species in Togo are Kinixys erosa, Kinixys homeana, and the 2 Cyclanorbis species (C. senegalensis and C. elegans), with Trionyx triunguis also being possibly seriously threatened. Overall, using the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List criteria, the concurrent presence of 2 Critically Endangered (K. homeana, C. elegans), 1 Endangered (K. erosa), and several Vulnerable species shows that the chelonian fauna of Togo should be of priority relevance for the competent international agencies.
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1 December 2014
Turtles and Tortoises of Togo: Historical Data, Distribution, Ecology, and Conservation
Gabriel Hoinsoude Segniagbeto,
Jean François Trape,