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In the highlands of tropical Hainan....
... a secretive Cuora species hides from being collected into extinction...
... lets hope it can hide well enough!
Cuora galbinifrons - What do we do?
In 1958, Li described Cyclemys flavomarginata hainanensis from the Island of Hainan, not being aware that this animal had already been described as Cuora galbinifrons by Bourret in 1939 from Vietnam. Hu et al elevated it to Species level in 1975 and subsequent authors recognised it to be Cuora galbinifrons, some declaring it as a subspecies of this species, others believing specimens from Hainan Island are Hybrids/Integrades of Cuora galbinifrons and Cuora bourreti. Well, this got our interest and so we carried out some field research on Hainan in the Diao Luo Shan mountains in collaboration with Jichao Wang from the University of Haikou. Jichao has been studying this population for many years and even attached Radiotransmitters to several specimens. Morphologically the specimens from this area are certainly no integrades and resemble pure Cuora galbinifrons. The species shows strong phenotypic variability in Vietnam, as such the evident characteristics of the Hainan Population needs to be throughly and rangewide compared to Mainland populations and further genetic studies are needed in order to clarify wether the Hainan Population deserves to be a subspecies or not, a project we are involved in. The Population on Hainan has been negatively impacted by hunting, but not to the same extend as on the mainland.
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