Conservation Actions

Cuora bourreti was listed in CITES Appendix II (as C. galbinifrons bourreti) under Criteria B i and B ii., by unanimous adoption at CoP 11 (CoP11 Prop. 36), which came into effect on 19 July 2000. It was then uplisted by consensus to Appendix I at CoP 18 in 2019 (CoP18, Prop. 33) and the listing came into effect on 26 November 2019. A zero quota was imposed for Cuora galbinifrons (including bourreti and picturata as subspecies) at CoP16 (CoP16 Prop.32), effective 12 June 2013. Cuora bourreti is protected from commercial exploitation in Viet Nam as a Priority Protected Rare, Precious and Endangered Species under Decree 160/2013/ND-CP of the Government. In Laos, Cuora galbinifrons is listed under Prohibited Category I, the highest protective category, banning hunting and collection year-round, of the Wildlife and Aquatic Species Law (No07/NA 24 December 2007). The genus Cuora, including Cuora bourreti, is included in Annex B of EU Commission Regulation no. 709/2010 (amending EC Regulation 338/97), which requires that a corresponding import permit must be issued by the country of import before a shipment of the species can enter the European Union.

Habitat conservation, in the form of National Parks, Special Conservation Areas, and other protected areas, is in place across much of the range of Cuora bourreti, and several records of these turtles originate from inside protected areas (Stuart and Platt 2004, McCormack et al. 2006, Stuart et al. 2011). However, designation as protected area does not necessarily lead to effective restrictions on the collection of turtles and other ‘forest products’, and is insufficient by itself to safeguard viable populations of the species in its natural habitat.

Location Information

Cuora bourreti is known from central Viet Nam (Nghe An, Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Thua Thien-Hue, Da Nang, Quang Nam, and Kon Tum provinces), as well as from adjoining Savannakhet Province in Lao PDR (Obst and Reimann 1994, Nguyen et al. 2009,Stuart et al. 2011).

Geographic Range


Lao People's Democratic Republic, Viet Nam

Population Information

No absolute population size numbers or estimates are available for Cuora bourreti, and only anecdotal relative population density data. All recent indications are that the species requires extensive search effort to encounter. During field surveys in Lao PDR in 1993–1999, encounter rates were on the order of one turtle per three months in the field for a herpetologist, and one C. galbinifrons per day when working with a trained turtle hunting dog in prime turtle habitat (Stuart and Timmins 2000). A great deal of survey work has been undertaken in Viet Nam between 2009–2012 focused on determining the range and priority habitat for Cuora ssp. with a focus on C. bourreti and C. picturata. Anecdotal information from interviews throughout the range has found that historic quantities of the species available for collection in the forest have been greatly reduced, with many hunters stating that while the species was common 7–15 years ago, it is now increasingly difficult to find. During surveys in 2006 in and around Song Thanh Nature Reserve, Quang Nam province, local hunters at that time claimed that numbers of C. bourreti had already been seriously depleted, from being able to catch 20 animals a day in the in the mid 1990s to only a few animals a week by 2006. However, the increasing economic value of the species by 2012 to an average of US$15.00 per kg is an increase from 2006, when surveys found an average value of US$9.00 around Song Thanh Nature Reserve, Quang Nam province. Similar reports of reductions in wild populations, and corresponding increases in wholesale prices paid, have been documented during interviews throughout the species range in Viet Nam (T. McCormack unpubl. data). Most specimens end in the Chinese pet and Traditional Chinese Medicinal (TCM) trade, where the species currently reaches prices of $150, compared to $20 in 2005. Overall, the population is estimated to have reduced by over 90% in the last 60 years (three generations) and this is expected to continue for at least the next 20 years. 


The primary threat to Cuora bourreti is collection for trade. The species is in high demand in the international pet trade and the Asian consumption trade. Collection efforts include both targeted searches for turtles involving trained dogs, or occasionally pitfall traps, as well as capitalizing on casual turtle encounters when collecting other forest products. Turtles, of any species, are collected whenever and wherever encountered in the region, regardless of legal protection status or location inside protected areas. Collected turtles are traded, mostly illegally, through a network of local middlemen before being exported or consumed locally. Increasing economic value has ensured that hunting pressure is sustained despite the increasing rarity of the species (Hendrie 2000, Stuart and Timmins 2000, McCormack et al. 2010, Stuart et al. 2011). Habitat loss and degradation are considered a significant but more localized threat to the species.


IUCN Red List Account Link

Please click here to see the species' IUCN Red List Account page.

Photo Credits

Asian Turtle Program