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Cuora pani (Song 1984)

Pan’s Box Turtle, Cuora pani, is a brown-shelled, yellow/olive-green headed, streamlined species of Cuora. The species measures 10.5–19.5 cm SCL; males are usually smaller and have an even less domed-shelled than females. The species inhabits fast-fowing streams in the northernmost range of this genus, with air temperatures as low as -20°C during winters, occurring along the Jangtse River in the Qin Mountain range in the central Chinese provinces of Henan, Hubei, Shaanxi, Sichuan, Chongqing, and Gansu. While the overall range covers about 200,000 km2, it is restricted to streams in suitable mountain valleys within this area, making the actual range much smaller. The species' rarity in captivity is reflected by its historically limited populations.

As with the similar C. aurocapitata, the description of C. pani as a new species foreshadowed intense trade which, would be expected, led to a drastic decline. Previously considered poisonous by the local tribes and left untouched for centuries, three decades of over-exploitation for wider markets pushed C. pani to the brink of extinction. Fewer than 10 wild-caught specimens are recorded per year, and it has not been found at its type locality for two decades. Observations by scientists have not been made since the 1990s, bringing the most liberal estimates of the remaining populations to 100–1000 specimens. Captive populations number below 500 total specimens, with fewer than 20% of those in carefully-managed assurance colonies. Breeding is occurring at an increasing rate in captivity. Field surveys are urgently needed for this species before it shares the presumed “extinct in the wild” status of certain other Cuora species.




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