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Neotropical Wood Turtles (Rhinoclemmys)

Working with the Turtle Conservancy, we are studying four species of Central American wood turtles who rely on dense tropical forested areas for their habitat. Our interest in these species stems from observations of an increasing number of Painted wood turtles (Rhinoclemmys pulcherrima) for sale in the United States.

We are working to understand where these turtles in the pet trade are being sourced, how the pet trade is impacting already dwindling populations, and what kind of conservation strategy turtle conservationists should adapt to ensure the future of these species.

Three species of Wood turtles are listed as Near Threatened, largely due to increasingly fragmented habitat. Our study's focus is on the fourth species, the Painted Wood Turtle (Rhinoclemmys pulcherrima) which has not yet been assessed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Species Latin Name IUCN Red-list CITES
Brown wood turtle Rhinoclemmys annulata Near Threatened Not Listed
Furrowed wood turtle Rhinoclemmys areolata Near Threatened Not Listed
Black river turtle Rhinoclemmys funera Near Threatened Not Listed
Painted wood turtle Rhinoclemmys pulcherrima *Not Assessed Not Listed

Painted wood turtles have not been assessed by the IUCN and include four sub-species:

  • Rhinoclemmys pulcherrima incisa
  • Rhinoclemmys pulcherrima manni
  • Rhinoclemmys pulcherrima pulcherrima
  • Rhinoclemmys pulcherrima rogerbarbouri

Taking our usual approach of applying cutting-edge conservation and social science in the field, we plan to contribute new scientific knowledge to the international conservation community. Conducting interviews with people in the pet trade in the U.S. and Nicaragua, and conducting field research on the ground in the forests of Central America, we will identify importers and exporters, identify the forested areas where turtles are being sourced, map trade routes, study the patterns of trade and trade's impact on turtle populations, and assess the sustainability of current practices.

Contact Us

PO Box 1244 • Ventura, CA 93002-1244
Phone: 1-805-643-7044

Carretera a Masaya Km 12.4
Residencial Villas del Prado, Casa No. 7
Managua, Nicaragua
Phone: +505-2279-8423
Phone: +505-2279-7072

© 2006 Paso Pacífico