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Turtles in Trouble

Top_25+_Turtles_in_Trouble_2011

Turtles

Turtles in Trouble: Top 25+ Endangered Tortoises and Freshwater Turtles—2011Painted TerrapinBatagur borneoensis (Schlegel and Müller 1845); Family GeoemydidaeAsia: Brunei, Indonesia (Kalimantan, Sumatra), Malaysia (East, West), ThailandIUCN Red List: CR, Critically Endangered A1bcdCITES: Appendix II, as Batagur spp.Male Painted Terrapins infull breeding color are widelyconsidered one of the moststrikingly beautiful turtles,with pure white heads strikinglyinterrupted by a redswath bordered by vivid indigorunning between theireyes. Additionally the colorof the males’ shells lightensduring the breeding season,further emphasizing the threepredominant black stripes thatrun parallel down the lengthof the shell. Such brilliant andcolorful sexual dimorphism isunusual among turtles.This Critically Endangeredlarge river turtle waspreviously in its own monotypicgenus Callagur, but has recently been reassigned tothe genus Batagur. Genetic studies have shown that it ismost closely related to Batagur dhongoka (Three-stripedRoofed Turtle) from India and Nepal. Although it is foundsympatrically with B. affinis (Southern River Terrapin) inmany parts of its range, the two species differ in theirchoice of nesting sites and breeding seasons. Batagur affinistends to nest on sandy riverbanks, whereas B. borneoensisnests on ocean beaches that are often frequentedby sea turtles that share the same nesting season as well.Global status has not been fully elucidated for thisspecies, though most populations are in serious decline.In Malaysia, wild populations occur in both West andEast Malaysia and the species is believed to be widelydistributed. However, numbers have dwindled due to unsustainableexploitation and insufficient and uncoordinatedconservation efforts. Remnant populations can still beDistribution of Batagur borneoensis.Batagur borneoensis male from Perak, Malaysia, in breeding color. Photo by Doug Hendrie.– 42 –found in Sumatra. Much like other species of large riverturtles, B. borneoensis has suffered from overexploitationof its flesh and eggs as well as habitat loss and degradation.Development of large-scale agro-based projects thatdischarge effluents into the rivers negatively impacts theriparian vegetation that B. borneoensis relies on for themajority of its diet. Additionally, this species is often collectedfrom the wild for the pet trade due to its highly attractivecoloration. It is also smuggled across borders andtraded illegally for food.Conservation measures accorded to the species havebeen limited and not well-planned. In Malaysia, eggs fromwild nests are incubated in several locations in Terengganuand Sarawak. Available records indicate that thenumbers in Terengganu have declined from several hundredclutches protected per year to less than 100 in 2010.Headstarting work has been sporadic and not sustained.To date, close to 200 headstarted Painted Terrapins havebeen released into the Setiu River in Terengganu. Samplingof wild Painted Terrapins caught in fishermen’s netsin the Setiu River 2009 and 2010 has yielded a total of249 individuals. Eighty of these were large enough thattheir sex could be determined, giving a ratio of 50 femalesto 30 males.A survey of the rivers in Terengganu carried out in2010 indicated the occurrence of B. borneoensis in all riversin the state. Its occurrence in the rivers of the remainingstates of Malaysia has not been well documented.There is an urgent need to identify all rivers with viablepopulations of the species.

Turtles in Trouble: Top 25+ Endangered Tortoises and Freshwater Turtles—2011Turtles in Trouble:Other Top 40 Tortoises and Freshwater Turtlesat Very High Risk of Extinction[species 26–40]Pan’s Box TurtleCuora pani Song 1984; Family GeoemydidaeAsia: China (Gansu, Hubei, Shaanxi, Sichuan)IUCN Red List: CR, Critically Endangered A1d+2d; CITES: Appendix II, as Cuora spp.This small aquatic species (shell length to 19 cm), with abrown flat streamlined shell, occurs in the central Chinese QinLing mountain range, and inhabits small clear hill streams ataltitudes of 400–800 m. It occupies the most continental andharsh environment of any Cuora, even tolerating cold winters.Very few specimens of exact provenance are known and littleis known of its habitat and ecology. Its distribution seems tobe very scattered and populations appear to have always beensmall. It has been exploited by the pet trade and is threatenedby severe habitat destruction. Despite being listed in Shaanxi’sProtected Animals in 1989, and in China’s National ProtectedAnimals in 2000, poaching continues and it is the last of therare Chinese aquatic Cuora species that is still occasionallyfound in markets. Only about 250 specimens survive in captivity;however, captive breeding has been quite successful inthe last few years.Cuora pani in captivity. Photo by Torsten Blanck.– 43 –

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