Conservation Actions

Nilssonia formosa is listed in CITES Appendix II. The species is designated as Protected under Myanmar’s Protection of Wildlife, Wild Plants and Conservation of Natural Areas Law of 1994. There is a small population in Htamanthi Wildlife Sanctuary (K. Platt pers. comm. 2018). Mandalay Zoo is breeding this species and has a number of hatchlings (K. Platt pers. comm. 2018).

Location Information

Nilssonia formosa is endemic to Myanmar, where it is found in three main rivers: the Ayeyarwady River, the Chindwin River and the Sittaung River; it occurs throughout much of these rivers in low numbers. The species might range into Yunnan (China) although this is not confirmed. It has been recorded from sea level to about 200 m above sea level.

Geographic Range



Population Information

Nilssonia formosa is a rare species that was formerly quite abundant. It is suspected that a minimum decline of 80% has occurred in the past three generations (equating to 90 years) and continuing into the future due to exploitation and habitat degradation.


Nilssonia formosa was traded in some numbers in the East Asian food trade, but is now infrequently encountered. Eggs are harvested by local people in Myanmar (P. Praschag pers. comm. 2018). Additional important threats include: increased sedimentation and high boat traffic for rivers; illegal fishing (dynamite, electroshock, poison); continuing settlement by people in riverside habitats; and gold mining impacts. It is uncommon to rare in the wild, and has a life history particularly sensitive to exploitation of adults as it is slow-breeding.


IUCN Red List Account Link

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

Photo Credits

Peter Paul van Dijk