Ten or more zebu carts filled with around 100 terrestrial tortoises each are leaving the Mahafaly Plateau in south Madagascar every week, according to a survey conducted by WWF staff. And while poaching of the endemic radiated tortoise (Astrochelys radiata) and the spider tortoise (Pyxis arachnoids) for the bush meat and pet trade is long established, ongoing political instability has seen a large jump in illegal collection. Poachers are also now much more likely to be armed and dangerous, with Toliara area gendarmes suspecting a well established network behind the poachers now lies behind the trade. Radiated and spider tortoises are among only four terrestrial tortoise species found in Madagascar and their range is limited to the unique but also under pressure southern spiny forest. Some 7,855 living tortoises and more than 4.8 tonnes of meat were seized between 2001 and 2010 � thought to represent around two per cent of an estimated 600,000 tortoises collected from the eco region during that period.