Species of the Day: Yunnan Box Turtle


Species of the Day: Yunnan Box Turtle
© Zhou Ting, William P. McCord, & Torsten Blanck
Species of the Day: Yunnan Box Turtle
The Yunnan Box Turtle, Cuora yunnanensis, is listed as ‘Critically Endangered’ on the IUCN
Red List of Threatened SpeciesTM, a decade after being listed as ‘Extinct’. This species was
first discovered around 1906 in high altitude areas in China, and was not recorded for many
years until a few captive animals appeared in 2005.
Geographical range
Help Save Species
There were doubts as to whether these captive-bred animals were genuine Yunnan Box
Turtles, but genetic testing showed that they were. The reasons for the species’ rarity are not
clear, but are thought to include the limited availability of suitable habitats at high elevations
and collection for consumption and medicinal use, as well as widespread habitat destruction
and degradation.
While potentially extremely valuable in the global pet trade - the first animal to emerge from
China into the international pet trade is reputed to be worth about USD 50,000 - the Yunnan
Box Turtle is strictly protected in China, where some of the known animals are safeguarded in
captivity. A comprehensive captive breeding and species recovery programme is also taking
Species of the Day
is sponsored by
The production of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™
is made possible through the IUCN Red List Partnership:
IUCN (including the Species Survival Commission), BirdLife
International, Conservation International, NatureServe and
Zoological Society of London.

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