At some point in time, the Hermann's tortoise (Testudo hermanni) was commonly seen slowly strolling the Maures and Esterel Mountains of the French Riviera. Nowadays, the tortoise is considered almost extinct in the wild in Southern France.
Why? Because these tortoises are adaptable, many folks grabbed them to keep as pets. Forest fires and land deforesting gave the animals another fatal blow.
We've talked about the Tortoise Village in Gonfaron before here on AzurAlive, Le Village des Tortues (SOPTOM), home to over 2500 tortoises of all kinds. Since its creation, the village has releases over 8000 Hermann tortoises into the Maures.
As local hikers, we are seeing regular signs that the tortoises are coming back to the Maures Mountains. Last month, we spotted one by hiking trails in the Petites Maures by Roquebrune-sur-Argens. Last week, we spotted another one by La Bouverie on the Petit Redon hiking footpath. A good sign for the local SOPTOM efforts and for the local eco-system.