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Cuora galbinifrons (Bourret 1939)

Cuora galbinifrons, a predominantly terrestrial species, inhabits evergreen rain forests at elevations of 500 to 1200 m in northern Vietnam, northeastern Laos, and southernmost Guangxi Province and Hainan Island of China. Its domed carapace is highly variable in color and pattern, and can be entirely black to chestnut brown with or without black stripes and radiations with a yellow, orange, or mainly black lateral band. The plastron is usually black; some specimens, especially from Hainan, show a yellowish central pattern similar to its close relative C. bourreti. The Hainan population was once described as a subspecies, C. g. hainanensis, but is not currently regarded as valid. Both C. bourreti and C. picturata were originally considered to be C. galbinifrons, before the recognized distinctions had been assessed. The head coloration in C. galbinifrons shows variably mixed black, red, orange, yellow, azure, pink, and/or whitish patterns. The species reaches a size of 15–20 cm SCL. Males can have a slightly concave plastron, larger claws and a thicker and longer tail compared to females. Despite mass collection for more than three decades, mainly for the Chinese food and medicine markets, the species is currently found in much of its range, where it is still heavily poached and traded to and within China. An estimated 1500–2000 specimens ended up in the international pet trade in the 1980s and 1990s, but this has ceased since the listing of this species on CITES Appendix II. Far greater numbers of this species were processed as food during this time frame in China, and continue to be traded there. Population estimates are in the 10,000–40,000 range at most, due to its somewhat large distribution area, and are perhaps substantially lower. Habitat destruction, such as tree logging and the creation of new farmland, further threatens the remaining populations. This species is rather delicate to keep in captivity and is easily stressed. Successful breeding is rare, but increasing. It is estimated that fewer than 1,500 specimens exist in captive collections.




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