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Chitra vandijki, 074

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Chitra vandijki McCord and Pritchard 2003 –
Burmese Narrow-Headed Softshell Turtle

Steven G. Platt1, Kalyar Platt2, Win Ko Ko1, and Thomas R. Rainwater3

1Wildlife Conservation Society, Myanmar Program, Aye Yeik Mon 1st Street, Yadanamon Housing Ave.,
Yangon, Myanmar [[email protected], [email protected]];

2Turtle Survival Alliance, Myanmar Program, Aye Yeik Mon 1st Street, Yadanamon Housing Ave.,
Yangon, Myanmar [[email protected]];

3U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Charleston Field Office, 176 Croghan Spur Road, Suite 200,
Charleston, South Carolina 29407 USA [[email protected]]


Summary. – The Burmese Narrow-headed Softshell Turtle, Chitra vandijki (Family Trionychidae), is a large (carapace length to at least 1000 mm), wholly aquatic turtle endemic to the Ayeyarwady and Chindwin River drainages of Myanmar. Virtually nothing is known concerning the ecology of C. vandijki in the wild. Populations are believed to be declining dramatically as a result of widespread over-harvesting to meet the demands of markets in southern China. Establishing a protected area along a suitable stretch of the Ayeyarwady or Chindwin River would greatly benefit C. vandijki. Additionally, there is an urgent need to establish captive breeding colonies of C. vandijki, but the species has proven difficult to successfully maintain in captivity.

Distribution. – Myanmar (Burma). Occurs in the Ayeyarwady and Chindwin River drainages and possibly the Sittaung River.

Synonymy.Chitra burmanica Jaruthanin 2002 (nomen nudum), Chitra vandijki McCord and Pritchard 2003.

Subspecies. – None recognized.

Status.IUCN 2013 Red List: Not Evaluated, TFTSG Draft Red List: Critically Endangered, CR, assessed 2011; CITES: Appendix II, as Chitra spp.


Platt, S.G., Platt, K., Win Ko Ko, and Rainwater, T.R. 2014. Chitra vandijki McCord and Pritchard 2003 – Burmese Narrow-Headed Softshell Turtle. In: Rhodin, A.G.J., Pritchard, P.C.H., van Dijk, P.P., Saumure, R.A., Buhlmann, K.A., Iverson, J.B., and Mittermeier, R.A. (Eds.). Conservation Biology of Freshwater Turtles and Tortoises: A Compilation Project of the IUCN/SSC Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group. Chelonian Research Monographs No. 5, pp. 074.1–7, doi:10.3854/crm.5.074.vandijki.v1.2014, //iucn-tftsg.org/cbftt/.

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Adult Chitra vandijki from Chindwin River, Myanmar.
Photo by Win Ko Ko.



Distribution of Chitra vandijki in Myanmar in southern Asia. Purple lines = boundaries delimiting major watersheds (level 3 hydrologic unit compartments – HUCs); red dots = museum and literature occurrence records of native populations based on recent and authors’ data; green shading = projected native distribution based on GIS-defined HUCs constructed around verified localities and then adding HUCs that connect known point localities in the same watershed or physiographic region, and similar habitats and elevations as verified HUCs (Buhlmann et al. 2009), and adjusted based on authors’ subsequent data.