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Hardella thurjii, 023

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Hardella thurjii (Gray 1831) –
Crowned River Turtle

Indraneil Das1 and S. Bhupathy2


1Institute of Biodiversity and Environmental Conservation,
Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, 94300 Kota Samarahan, Sarawak, Malaysia [[email protected]];
2Sálim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History,
Anaikatty (PO), Coimbatore 641 108, Tamil Nadu, India [[email protected]]


Summary. – The crowned river turtle, Hardella thurjii (Family Geoemydidae), is a large (CL to 65 cm) freshwater turtle, largely confined to lentic waters in the Indian subcontinent. The species shows extreme sexual size dimorphism, females attaining a length over three times that of the males. Only plant matter is taken by the species in some areas, but elsewhere prawn or fish may be taken, possibly as carrion. Courtship and mating take place during the summer months in northern India, and 8–19 ellipsoidal eggs may be produced. Heavy exploitation for its flesh and extensive wetland development projects are among the factors suspected to have made the turtle rare in localities where it was once common, although there is some evidence that the species is difficult to observe in the wild.

Distribution. – Bangladesh, India, Myanmar?, Nepal, Pakistan. Distributed across the northern Indian subcontinent from Pakistan to Bangladesh, and possibly in western Myanmar.

Synonymy. – Emys thuryi Gray 1830 (nomen oblitum), Emys thurjii Gray 1831, Hardella thurjii, Hardella thurjii thurjii, Emys flavonigra Lesson 1831, Clemmys thurgii Fitzinger 1835 (ex errore), Emys thurgii, Batagur thurgii, Hardella thurgii, Kachuga oldhami Gray 1869, Hardella indi Gray 1870, Hardella thurjii indi

Batagur falconeri Lydekker 1885, Batagur cautleyi Lydekker 1885, Batagur floweri Lydekker 1885, Batagur watsonii Lydekker 1886, Geoemyda pilgrimi Prasad and Satsangi 1967.


Subspecies. – No subspecies are currently recognized, as no genetic or consistent morphological differences can be found between the western population from the Indus basin (for which the name Hardella indi Gray 1870, was established) and those further east.

Status. – IUCN 2008 Red List: Vulnerable (VU A1cd+2cd) (assessed 2000); CITES: Not Listed.



Das, I. and Bhupathy, S. 2009. Hardella thurjii (Gray 1831) – crowned river 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. 023.1-023.6, doi:10.3854/crm.5.023.thurjii.v1.2009, //iucn-tftsg.org/cbftt/.

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Hardella thurjii; adult male. National Chambal Sanctuary, Madhya Pradesh, India. Photo by Indraneil Das.



Distribution of Hardella thurjii in the Indian sub-continent. Red points = museum and literature occurrence records based on Iverson (1992) plus more recent and authors’ data; green shading =  projected distribution based on GIS-defined hydrologic unit compartments (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., unpubl. data), and adjusted based on authors’ data.