Chinese Three-striped Box Turtle
The Chinese Three-striped Box Turtle, Cuora trifasciata, is listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™. This aquatic and terrestrial turtle is native to southern China and northern Viet Nam, and is also thought to occur in Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Myanmar.
Many turtle and tortoise species across Southeast Asia have undergone unprecedented declines in recent years due to overexploitation for Asian food markets. Recent claims that the shell of the Chinese Three-striped Box Turtle has cancer-curing medicinal properties has led to an enormous increase in its commercial value with animals now selling for many thousands of dollars each. This has brought about the severe demise of the species in the wild, bringing it to the brink of extinction. It is further threatened by over-collection for the pet trade.
Due to the high demand and value of this species, its survival in the wild is unlikely without effective and targeted protection of the last remaining populations and increased breeding efforts of genetically pure groups. Various captive breeding programmes are underway around the world, with plans for reintroducing captive-bred individuals into the wild.