Arakan forest turtle

Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Sauropsida
Order: Testudines
Suborder: Cryptodira
Superfamily: Testudinoidea
Family: Bataguridae
Subfamily: Geoemydinae
Genus: Heosemys
Species: H. depressa
Binomial name
Heosemys depressa
(Anderson, 1875)[1]

The Arakan Forest Turtle (Heosemys depressa) is an extremely rare turtle species which lives only in the Arakan hills of western Myanmar.[1]

The Arakan Forest Turtle was believed extinct (last seen in 1908), but in 1994 was rediscovered when a few specimens turned up in Asian food markets. Like most Asian turtles, it is collected yearly as a food source or for "medical cures." Only a handful of these conservation reliant turtles are in captivity, and their status in the wild, which is dubious at best, is listed as critical.

"The animals seem to be extremely difficult to establish in captivity," said Peter Paul van Dijk, director of the tortoise and freshwater turtle program for Conservation International. There are only 14 Arakan Forest Turtles in Association of Zoos and Aquariums accredited institutions in the United States -- at Zoo Atlanta, the St. Louis Zoo, the Miami Metro Zoo, River Banks Zoo and Garden in Columbia, South Carolina, and Knoxville Zoo.

In May 2007, Zoo Atlanta, the only Arakan Forest turtle breeding facility in the world, announced the successful hatching of their fourth hatchling to have been born there in the last six years. They also announced that there is another egg near hatching, and two additional hatchlings did not survive. Arakan Forest turtles only mate once a year, and the eggs take 100 days to hatch.

In 2009, scientists discovered wild Arakan Forest Turtles for the first time in history in an elephant sanctuary in Myanmar.[2]