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TCM Demands Threaten Endangered Turtles
In May the Turtle Conservation Fund (TCF) released a list of the World’s Top 25
Most Endangered Turtles to highlight the survival crisis facing tortoises and
freshwater turtles. Fully 200 of the 300 living species of tortoises and
freshwater turtles are in danger of extinction.
In Indonesia, for example, the Sulawesi forest turtle is already endangered
after being known to science for less than 10 years. The belief that soup and
jelly made from the Chinese three-striped box turtle has cancer-curing
properties had reduced populations of this species to a few remnant colonies in
Northern Vietnam and China.
Human exploitation and development-related pressures are two of the biggest
threats to the turtles. The TCF is particularly concerned with the demand from
the Asian food and traditional medicine markets. Tons of live turtles are
imported each day to southern China from the Southeast Asia region, with more
than 10 million turtles traded each year.
Species on the Top 25 list survive in small numbers in Asia (12), South Africa
(2), Madagascar (3), the Mediterranean (1), Australia (2), South America (2),
Mesoamerica (1) and the United States (2).
For a complete listing, visit