The Indochinese box turtle is a strikingly mottled freshwater turtle. The high-domed carapace has alternating areas of yellowish cream and dark brown stripes that radiate out from the middle of the shell (2). The chin and throat are also yellow/cream, whilst the pointed head has a short snout and is yellowish grey. As with all members of this genus there are hinges at both ends of the plastron, which enable these turtles to fully seal themselves within their shell (4). This ability has given rise to the common name of box turtle.
Indochinese box turtles are one of the most terrestrial species of box turtles, and are able to survive long periods without water (5). The warm colours and diffusing pattern of the carapace provide effective camouflage on the forest floor (5). This species is fairly shy and nervous, retreating readily into its shell when disturbed (4). Very little else is known about the ecology of wild populations.
Freshwater turtles in South East Asia face a number of threats, principally habitat alteration and human exploitation. Forests are being cleared and watercourses altered in the process of cultivating the land for human use, which is often achieved at the detriment of the turtles' natural habitat (6). Another major threat to the survival of this species comes from the pet trade; between 1989 and 94 almost 33,000 specimens of the genus Corus (Asian box turtles) were imported into the United States (6). An additional threat may come from the increasing demand for turtles for food and medicines, especially in China (6).
More information is urgently needed on the distribution and behaviour of this shy box turtle. The Indochinese box turtle is listed on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) (3) but trade remains one of the key features of its decline. More data on distribution of this species is vital if a comprehensive conservation plan is to be established.
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