Abstract

The CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) data set for the years 1990–2010 were analyzed to depict the main patterns of trade for tortoises and freshwater turtles of wild origin. About 2 million wild individuals were traded over 20 yrs of monitoring, with 48 species (of 335 turtle species in total) belonging to 10 distinct families being regularly traded and over 100 being at least occasionally traded. Most of the traded specimens belonged to the families Testudinidae, Geoemydidae, Emydidae, and Trionychidae (about 93% of trade). The trade of wild individuals reached its peak in the early 2000s, with this pattern being stronger in the Asian region. After the years 2003–2005, there was a substantial decrease in the number of wild exports from the Asian region, with a remarkable growth in the export numbers from the Nearctic region. It is unknown whether the reduction of exported Asian region turtle numbers depended on 1) CITES regulation and supervision or 2) a collapse of the wild populations. There were uneven frequencies of wild turtles traded by biogeographic region, with a higher amount of traded wild turtles coming from Asian and Palearctic regions. There were 107 exporting countries, with Malaysia, the United States, and Indonesia being the most important countries in the trade (each one responsible for over 20% of trade). Overall, there were 66 importing countries, with the most important being the United States (17%), China (15%), and Hong Kong (12%). The conservation implications of the observed patterns are discussed.

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