Cheat days, tactical shells, and the endangered Indian star tortoise

Yala National Park

Fun Facts

Though the Indian star tortoise is a herbivore – usually eating leaves, fruit, berries and flowers – decaying animal carcass is secretly on the menu in the wild! Their striking and practical shell pattern of yellow-striped stars helps them camouflage within dry grassy patches, and thanks to its shell shape, flipping back on their feet if turned over is a breeze!

Did you know?

Though the Indian star tortoise may live up to 80 years, it is a threatened species notably popular in the exotic pet trade – the primary reason it’s now endangered. The Indian star tortoise was upgraded to CITES Appendix I in 2019 (threatened with extinction), giving it the highest level of international protection from commercial trade. Over 6000 tortoises were seized across the globe, fated to be sold in the pet trade.


Indian star tortoises are native to India, Sri Lanka and South Eastern Pakistan. They can be found in grasslands, scrub forests and coastal scrublands across Sri Lanka.



Amazing experience - great company values

We had a wonderful stay at yala camp - great accommodation / food / safari. The staff were all outstanding - all full of passion for their role to make sure we had an unforgettable experience and absolutely committed to providing an ethical product. This company provides a perfect safari experience - no plastics / sustainable / local produce / knowledgeable committed staff. An honour to be a guest and support them."

J K wrote, Traveled as a couple
December 2019

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