|Select your language|
ATP WEEKLY TURTLE BULLETIN
No. 100, 4th October 2013
1. The Cuora genus in severe trouble
DATE: 31 st July, 2013
All box turtles of the Cuora genus have an endangered status ranging from vulnerable for Cuora amboinensis to critically endangered for Cuora yunnanensis . All 12 Cuora species are listed under CITES II with a zero export quota for wild specimens for commercial purposes with the exception for Cuora amboinensis having no zero quota. Asian countries and China in particular have a long history regarding consuming wildlife, especially turtles, for example, there still is a strong belief that eating turtles will cure cancer and other diseases, will give you a healthy and sexual active live. Apart from eating the meat of the animals, traditional Chinese medicine are made from the remains. Since the 70s and early 80s large numbers of freshwater turtle species from the Cuora genus have been sold on the Asian food markets for these purposes. Half of the Cuora species did not have a historic large habitat range and did probably not occur in large numbers in the wild. The critical status of these Cuora genus species was assessed and documented for the first time at the Workshop on Conservation and Trade of Freshwater Turtles and Tortoises in Asia by Van Dijk, Stuart and Rhodin in 1999. A few species (Cuora zhoui, C. mccordi, C. yunnanensis) have been described from the food market specimens for the first time during the 80s. Hardly a decade later were these species already assumed to be extinct in the wild. C. yunnanensis however was rediscovered in 2004. Of the majority of the 12 Cuora species there is hardly seen any commercial trade nowadays. Cuora galbinifrons and Cuora mouhoti are sometimes seen in small numbers in food markets. With the rarity of Asian species in the wild and as such reduced numbers available for human consumption, imports of Cuora amboinensis from the Philippines and Indonesia increased. It will be a matter of time that this species reaches the same status as the others. Moreover, large numbers died due to long trips from the countries of origin via the transit ports (often Hong Kong) to the importing countries such as Japan, USA and Europe during the early 80s. At present limited numbers of these imports are still alive. The endangered status of the majority of these species was already acknowledged in the 90s resulting in studbook/breeding programs within the private turtle keeper societies in the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and Austria. Some of the European Studbook Foundation (ESF) studbooks are properly managed and coordinated and some need improvement. Some are managed in close cooperation with the zoos of Munster and Rotterdam. In spite of these positive sides for the majority of the Cuora studbook species a lot more efforts have to be put into the management and coordination resulting in the increase of the studbook populations. Also better communication and cooperation between studbook keepers and participants are essential. And finally the communication between the ESF board and the Cuora studbook keepers needs improvement.
Link to this web article online (English)