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Burmese Star Tortoise (Geochelone platynota) Fact Sheet: Distribution & Habitat



  • Wild populations of Burmese Star Tortoise within Myanmar’s national protected area system (e.g., Platt et al. 2017; Platt and Platt 2020; Praschag et al. 2020)
    • As of Feb 2022, found in 3 wildlife sanctuaries, with ultimate goal of reintroduction to all protected areas within the species’ range
  • Once abundant and historically found throughout dry zone of Central Myanmar (previously Burma) (Moll 1989; Platt et al. 2011; Platt et al. 2017; Turtle Taxonomy Working Group 2021)
    • Extirpated from northern Dry Zone by poachers in the mid-1980s (Platt and Platt 2021)
    • Ecologically extinct across its range by 2000 (e.g., Platt et al. 2003; Platt et al. 2011; Platt et al. 2018; Praschag et al. 2020)
  • Dry zone, Central Myanmar
    • Semi-arid, desert-like region formed by rain shadow of western mountains (Roberts et al. 1968; Platt et al. 2011)
    • Temperatures reach up to 43°C (109°F) during hottest months (April and May) (Platt and Platt 2020)
    • Extended dry season, brief wet season (late June to September) (Platt et al. 2004; Platt et al. 2011)
      • Annual rainfall: 500-1,000 mm (20-40 in)
    • Home to “the bulk of Myanmar’s human population” (Platt and Platt 2017)
      • Dense human populations in Myanmar for more than 1,000 years (Thant Myint-U 2006, cited by Platt and Platt 2020)
  • Myanmar
    • High diversity of turtles and tortoises (Platt and Platt 2017)
      • Among the most important countries for their conservation

Elevation range

  • 50 to 500 m (160 to 1,600 ft) above sea level (Praschag et al. 2020)


Forests and grasslands

(Platt 2001a; Platt et al. 2001; Platt et al. 2003; Platt et al. 2011; Turtle Conservation Coalition 2018; Praschag et al. 2020)

  • Dry scrub forests
  • Deciduous forest with dense grassy undergrowth
  • Scrub bamboo forests
  • Grasslands
  • Hedgerows, pastures, and agricultural fields
    • Platt et al. (2003) describe these areas as important habitats, where tortoises not hunted

Burmese Star Tortoise Distribution

World map of Burmese star tortoise distribution

The Burmese Star Tortoise is found in several protected areas of Central Myanmar.

Adapted from according to IUCN fact sheet. Click here or on map for detailed distribution (IUCN).

Forest Cover

Dry scrub forest of the Burmese star tortoise

Mixed tree-shrub habitat of Burmese star tortoise

Burmese Star Tortoises live in a variety of habitats, including different types of forests, grasslands, and agricultural fields.

Image credit: Lewis Medlock, © WCS/TSA Myanmar Turtle Program. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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