Tomas Diagne, born in Senegal in 1971, has loved animals since he was a boy. At the age of 12, he filled the family home with small creatures. His passion has made him one of Africa’s leading naturalists.
The main focus of Diagne’s conservation work has been Senegal’s seven species of tortoise, including the biggest land tortoise in Africa, Geochelone sulcata. In 1992, he set up a sanctuary, housing three tortoises, on his father’s farm. In 1998, he won a Rolex Award and then secured further funding from the European Union, giving him the means to establish the Noflaye Tortoise Village. Home to over 600 tortoises, with room for another 2,000, it now educates and delights 8,000 visitors every year.
Since 2003, Diagne has been assessing the state of tortoise populations across a range of African countries. He is now raising funds for the creation of the African Chelonian Institute, dedicated to education, research and conservation of African tortoises.
Published in 2009