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Batagur baska

Cladus: Eukaryota
Supergroup: Opisthokonta
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Cladus: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Classis: Reptilia
Subclassis: Anapsida
Ordo: Testudines
Subordo: Cryptodira
Superfamilia: Testudinoidea
Familia: Geoemydidae
Subfamilia: Batagurinae
Genus: Batagur
Species: Batagur baska


Batagur baska Gray, 1831

Vernacular names
English: River terrapin
Español: Gal�pago batagur
Français: Batagur malais


* IUCN link: Batagur baska (Gray, 1831) (Critically Endangered)


The northern river terrapin(Batagur baska), also called giant river turtle or mangrove terrapin is a species of riverine turtle. It is one of the most critically-endangered turtle species according to a 2003 assessment by the IUCN. Batagur baska is a rare and endangered Asian river terrapin also called the "Royal Turtle" in Cambodia because its eggs were a royal delicacy.

River terrapins of different age cohorts: (from top to bottom) hatchling of about a week old, one year old and two years old.

Carapace moderately depressed, with a vertebral keel in the young, which keel disappears in the adult; nuchal broader than long; first vertebral as broad in front as behind, or a little broader; vertebrals 2 to 4 subequal, much broader than long in the young, nearly as long as broad and as broad as the costals in the adult, the postero-lateral border of the third vertebral strongly concave. Plastron large, strongly angulate laterally in the young, convex in the adult, truncate anteriorly, angularly notched posteriorly; the width of the bridge exceeds the length of the posterior lobe; the longest median suture is that between the abdominals, the shortest that between the gulars, the latter never more than half that between the humerals; inguinal large, axillary smaller. Head rather small; snout pointed, produced, directed upwards; jaws with denticulated edge, upper feebly notched mesially; the width of the lower jaw at the symphysis nearly equals the diameter of the orbit. Limbs with transversely enlarged, band-like scales. Maximum carapace length is 60cm. Upper surface of shell and soft parts olive-brown, lower surface yellowish. [1]


The Batagur is found only in parts of India such as Bengal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Peninsular Malaysia (Kedah, Perak and Terengganu), Sumatra, Indonesia and Cambodia (Cardamom Mountains), and populations have been sharply declining in recent years.


Many Asian turtles are in danger because of the thriving trade in animals in the region, where a species' rarity can add to its value on a menu or as a traditional medicine.

The species was thought to have disappeared in Cambodia until it was rediscovered in 2001. Conservationists eventually began tagging the animals with tracking devices and monitoring their nests, and King Norodom Sihamoni personally ordered their protection.

In Malaysia, rivers of Kedah, Perak and Terengganu are major nesting grounds though the population continues to crash despite conservation efforts undertaken by Malaysian Wildlife Department for over 20 years. Pasir Temir and Pasir Lubuk Kawah by the Terengganu River are the largest nesting sites for Batagur baska in the world.

Cited references

1. ^ Boulenger, G.A.(1890) Fauna of British India. Reptilia and Batrachia.

Other references

* Asian Turtle Trade Working Group (2006). Batagur baska. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved on 10 May 2006. Database entry includes justification for why this species is critically endangered
* Das, Indraneil (1989) "Batagur baska in Orissa" Hamadryad: The Journal of the Madras Crocodile Bank Trust 14(1): 2-3
* Gray,J.E. (1857) "Notice of some Indian tortoises (including the description of a new species presented to the British Museum by Professor Oldham)" Annals and Magazine of Natural History 19(2): 342-344
* Platt, S.G.; Bryan L. Stuart; Heng Sovannara; Long Kheng, Kalyar and Heng Kimchhay (2003) "Rediscovery of the critically endangered river terrapin, Batagur baska, in Cambodia, with notes on occurrence, reproduction, and conservation status" Chelonian Conservation and Biology 4(3): 691

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