Two tortoise species are naturally spread on Bulgarian territory – the Spur-thighed Tortoise (Testudo graeca) and Hermann’s Tortoise (Testudo hermanni). According to Bulgarian legislation they are protected under Biodiversity Conservation Act and the Penal Code of Bulgarian Republic. Both species are globally threatened and listed in Red List of International Union for Nature Conservation (IUCN-2004). Tortoises are protected under international conventions as well: Bern Convention, Convention on International trade with endangered wild flora and fauna species (CITES); Habitat Directive 92/43 of the European Union (1992). After the end of the 19th century the following factors have been present in Bulgaria:
- Destroying of habitats
- Collection of tortoise for human consumption and for pet trade
- Use of pesticides in agriculture and forestry
Combined with the long recruitment period within tortoise populations and the lack of effective conservation measures these factors lead to considerable negative impacts upon the distribution and the abundance of tortoises. The density of populations has become lower everywhere in Bulgaria, while in regions with vulnerable populations this lead to their total extinction. In conditions of declining populations, even keeping them as a pet or even natural predatory may lead to their extinction.