Chelonia is a reptile order containing turtles, tortoises, and terrapins which have protective shells developed from their ribs and lack teeth. They are among the oldest and most primitive groups of reptiles, having existed for more than 220 million years, outlasting the dinosaurs. These ectotherms have slow metabolism and live all over the world in almost every type of climate.
Chelonians are among the world’s most endangered vertebrates with 62% of 327 species threatened with extinction being vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered. Chelonians are collected by traders, eaten in the wild and in fine restaurants, captured for pets or traditional medicine, and sometimes simply killed. Slaughtered for their eggs, meat, skin and shells, they suffer from poaching and over-exploitation. They also face habitat destruction and accidental capture in fishing gear. Chance meeting between male and female for mating is occurring less with decreasing population. Climate change has an impact on nesting sites. The very adaptations that once made them so successful—their long adult life span and delayed sexual maturity—has made them vulnerable as the world around them changed, mostly thanks to human beings. Even though these amazing species wear a suit of armor, they are incredibly fragile with high mortality rate. They need protection by humans, from humans. Long-lived turtles and tortoises are symbols of perseverance. Save the turtles!