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The Critically Endangered Chinese language Pond or Yellow Terrapin. Hong Kong within the Sixties


    I famous once I reviewed the brand new guide on the freshwater chelonians of Hong Kong that the Chinese language Pond Terrapin, Mauremys mutica doesn’t seem. Those who had been as soon as discovered there have been categorised as Launched as a result of Hong Kong was stated to not be inside its recognized vary. Nevertheless, that’s clearly not now the case, judging by the distribution map proven within the IUCN Crimson Checklist (the place it’s known as the Yellow Pond Turtle). I believe that it ought to be thought-about as having been extirpated in Hong Kong by assortment and habitat loss however sometimes restored if not sustainably by the discharge of captive specimens from the meals markets.

    Within the wild this species has suffered a catastrophic decline in numbers over the previous few a long time. An 80% fall in three generations throughout Vietnam and China was IUCN’s estimate in 2018. It’s now marked Critically Endangered. The Wikipedia article (which has a dreadful {photograph} of a stuffed specimen in Japan) gives an inventory of references which illustrate each the complexity of what won’t be a single species and of difficulties of conservation by way of captive breeding and launch of inventory from farms. The species, together with many others, is farmed in China and there are examples of all types of bizarre hybrids turning up in captivity and in feral populations.

    Mauremys mutica (then often called Clemmys mutica) was an everyday within the moist markets of Hong Kong within the Sixties. The one I present right here (photographed on the roof of the now-demolished Northcote Science Constructing of the College of Hong Kong) was purchased in a Kowloon market by a lecturer, whose identify I’m nonetheless attempting to recollect, at what was then Hong Kong Baptist Faculty, in 1966 or early 1967. She then launched it within the wild within the New Territories.

    The account in Karsen, Lau and Bogadek’s second version of Hong Kong Amphibians and Reptiles revealed in 1998 described what was then recognized:

    Could also be thought to be launched. As an oblique results of the pet commerce and conventional medication commerce, occasional specimens escape or are launched. One specimen was discovered on Cheung Chau, having nearly definitely escaped from a close-by temple the place quite a few species of terrapins had been stored. Further specimens had been discovered within the neighborhood of Shing Mun and Tai Tam Reservoirs, Sai Kung and Shek Kong areas. It’s uncertain whether or not this species is a part of Hong Kong’s native fauna since these information lie outdoors the historic vary, and there was a latest surge in information in areas regularly visited by folks.

    All types of questions spring to thoughts. Did those launched ever breed? Have they now all gone? It’s maybe price noting that within the areas talked about, Crimson-eared Sliders, the ever-present pet terrapin and in addition farmed in China for the human meals market, at the moment are commonplace. Have they outcompeted these in addition to different native-to-China if not native-to-Hong Kong species?

    Dire straits is the one description I can consider for standing of the chelonian populations of China.