Shell Shock: South Asian Box Turtle
Thousands of south Asian box turtles are hunted every year in Southern Asia to meet huge demand for food and the international pet trade, as well as for prized ingredients in traditional Chinese medicine. The wild population now risks extinction, worsened by their slow reproduction that cannot replace those being taken fast enough.
Many other Asian turtles are facing a similar fate. Over half of the endemic species in now critically endangered or vulnerable. Local conservation projects are trying to help, together with awareness and action campaigns such as Shell-Shock in 2004-5. These programmes include finding sustainable alternatives, funding conservation, and discouraging people from buying shell products or medicines with turtle parts.
Our chelonian residents
Our South Asian box turtle is a new arrival to The Living Rainforest (via captive breeding). He joins a number of other turtles, tortuous, and terrapins, each with their own story. They include:
Red-eared terrapin/slider (Trachemys scripta elegans) from America. These are often kept as pets in the UK, but have escaped and are now living wild where have impacted upon insect populations and aquatic life, such as ducks.
Toad-headed Turtles (Phrynops geoffroanus) from South American. These are risk from changes to the Amazon River.
Homes Hingeback Tortoises (Kinixys homeana); a beautiful, but vulnerable species from central and west Africa.
At a glance
Warm water in swamps, streams, and rice paddy fields in Southern Asia
Very broad, including aquatic plants, crustaceans, soft invertebrates, mollusks, fallen fruits
Up to 20cm (8’’)
IUCN conservation status
Endangered in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Lao, Viet Nam. Vulnerable in India, Indonesia, and Malaysia
What does this mean?
Cuora amboinensis (distribution includes four sub-species)
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