Scientific name: Cyclanorbis elegans (Gray, 1869)
IUCN Status: Critically endangered as listed by IUNC 2016
Geographical location: Ghana, northern Togo, Central Nigeria (i.e. Lokoja), Niger River, southern Chad, northern Central Africa Republic and South Sudan (Baker et al., 2016), the species is exceedingly rare in Nigeria.
Population: Undetermined (Decreasing population).
Nubian Flapshell Turtle are a sub-family of softshell turtle (Trionychidae) of four (4) species and two (2) genera (Cycloderma, Cyclanorbis). Each genera has two species each in Sub-Saharan Africa (Mazuch et al., 2016). Nubian Flapshell Turtle has become rare among the six species of softshell turtle native in Africa, the Middle East and the Mediterranean (TRAFFIC Recommendations on the Proposals to amend the CITES appendices at CoP17). They are regarded as the most threatened turtle on Earth (Demaya et al., 2019), and the largest Freshwater turtle in Africa and one of the largest in the world (Demaya et al., 2019).
Turtle generally, lay eggs on the same beaches where they were hatched, by visiting the beach yearly and seeing it as a safe heaven for laying of their eggs (this behavior makes it easy for local farmers to target particular places especially during the month of August to November to harvest Turtle eggs or captured the Females matured ones), and they could lay about 20 – 38 eggs in various clutches (Demaya et al., 2019).
There are two species of Cyclanorbis (C. elegans and C. senegalensis), they both co-occur in most of their distribution (Mazuch et al., 2016), and they could easily be mistakenly for another, but the latter have a wider distribution. Morphology; C. elegans has two to four plastral callosities while C. senegalensis have up to nine callosities, however, the number of callosities could change in respect to growth (Mazuch et al., 2016). C. elegans is much bigger to the C. senegalensis and there are difficulties in differentiating the juveniles (Mazuch et al., 2016).
Habitat: The animal is semi- aquatic to highly aquatic and mostly found in freshwater rivers and lakes at low to moderate altitudes with few species occasionally found in brackish waters (CITES). They mostly come out of water to nest (Ernst and Barbour, 1989)
Feeding: They are reported to be omnivorous and could eat detritus and fallen fruits (Bonin et al., 2006).
According to Tre 10 confirmed sight of the species has being reported so far in the past 50 years, and the animal has not being seen in the last 25 years in the wild (Tre). The Nubian flapshell turtle is one of two species of softshell turtle in the genus Cyclanorbis of the Trionychidae family (Wikipedia)
Threat: Hunted for local consumption; (eggs are consumes in southern Nigeria (Baker et al., 2016; CITES, 2016) and from community survey of work done in South Sudan, their meat is much prefer to other Turtle (Baker et al., 2016). The cost price of individual mature animal to end consumers ranges from 250 – 300 USD (Baker et al., 2016; Demaya et al., 2019), international pet trade, habitat destruction (i.e. mining), disturbance of nesting habitats, construction of Dams, and Natural predator
There was report of an illegal butchery in Malawi, where large numbers of Flapshell Turtle (Cycloderma frenatum) meat and shell are being processed and exported to Asia (TRAFFIC Recommendations on the Proposals to amend the CITES appendices at CoP17). Reportedly captured during the wet season as a by-catch. Studies has shown that, the captured of females (with eggs) are much common during this period (Demaya et al., 2019).
WHAT IF, THE ANIMAL GO INTO EXTINCTION?
The Nubian Flapshell Turtle are part of the important food chain in their habitat, they helped in the flow of energy, nutrient cycling, dispersal of riparian vegetation, maintenance of water quality and often acts as ecosystem scavengers (CITES, 2016; Bonin et al., 2006).
They could be used to keep water habitat (well, river etc.) free of algae, insect larvae, and helps putrefy the water (Moll and Moll, 2004; CITES, 2016).
THE SPECIES PLAYS NUMEROUS ROLE IN THE BODY OF WATER AS HIGHLIGHTED ABOVE, LOSS OF THE SPECIES WILL HAVE ADVERSE EFFECT ON THE BODY OF WATER, WHICH INCLUDES AND NOT LIMITED TO; POLLUTION OF WATER, DEATH OF AQUATIC ORGANISM ETC. THIS WILL IN TURN AFFECT, HUMAN RACE AS WE GREATLY DEPENDS ON THE BODY OF WATER FOR SEVERAL FAVOR SUCH AS: FISH FOR CONSUMPTION AND INCOME, DAY AND NIGHT AIR EXCHANGE, WATER FOR HOME, INDUSTRIAL, AND AGRICULTURAL USE, FORM OF TRANSPORTATION OF HUMAN AND GOODS AND HELP IN THE FIGHT OF GLOBAL WARMING
PICTURE CREDIT: Wikipedia
Mazuch, T., Trailin, V., Fritz, U. and Vamberger, M. (2016). Senegal Flapshell Turtle (Cyclanorbis senegalensis) in Ethiopia (Testudines: Trionychidae), Amphibian & Reptile Conservation. 10(2) [Special Section]: 1–5 (e125).
Baker, P.J., Diagne, T. and LuiseLLi, A.L. (2015). Cyclanorbis elegans (Gray 1869) –Nubian Flapshell Turtle, Chelonian Research Monographs. ISSN 1088-7105, No. 5, doi:10.3854/crm.5.089.elegans.v1.2015
CoP17 Prop. 36. [Burkina Faso, Chad, Gabon, Guinea, Liberia, Mauritania, Nigeria, Togo and United States of America] Inclusion of six species in the Family Trionychidae in Appendix II: Cyclanorbis elegans, Cyclanorbis senegalensis, Cycloderma aubryi, Cycloderma frenatum, Trionyx triunguis and Rafetus euphraticus, TRAFFIC Recommendations on the Proposals to amend the CITES appendices at CoP17
Baker, P.J., Luiselli, L. and Diagne, T. (2016). Cyclanorbis elegans. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. e.T6004A3086539, http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.20162.RLTS.T6004A3086539.en
Ernst, C. H., and Barbour, R.W. (1989). Turtles of the World. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C. and London. 313 pp.
Bonin, F., Devaux, B. and Dupré, A. (2006). Turtles of the World. English translation by P.C.H. Pritchard. Johns Hopkins University Press, 416 pp.
Moll, D. and Moll, E.O. (2004). The ecology, exploitation, and conservation of river turtles. Oxford University Press. New York, NY. 393pp.
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild fauna and flora (2016). Seventeenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties Johannesburg (South Africa), 24 September – 5 October 2016. Consideration of proposals for Amendment of Appendices I and Ii