Striped narrow-headed softshell turtle (Chitra chitra)
Critically endangered on the IUCN Red List.
Chitra chitra is a softshell turtle found Thailand, Malaysia, Sumatra, and Java. It is one of the largest freshwater turtles in the world, with a shell reaching up to 122cm in length. It is carnivorous, and feeds on fish and crustaceans, which it ambushes by quickly extending its neck. It only goes onto land to nest, where it lays up to 117 round eggs.
Like the other turtles I’ve featured, C. chitra is threatened by over collecting for the pet and food trade. The pollution of rivers and deforestation have also contributed to this species’ decline in numbers.
C. chitra is protected in Thailand and Indonesia, and it also occurs in protected areas in other parts of its range. There has been some success with captive breeding programmes, and this species is also being considered for a placement on Appendix I of CITES.
Photo: Krishna Kumar Mishra.