Ruykuy black-breasted leaf turtle
Binomial Name: Geoemyda Japonica
The Ryukyu leaf turtle is one of the natural national monuments of Japan and there are strict laws for the protection of these tiny and beautiful creatures.
It is a member of the genus Geoemyda. Ryukyu leaf turtle is listed as endangered on the IUCN Red list. This species is endangered due to habitat destruction and the mass collection as it is used in traditional Chinese medicines and as a pet as well. Due to its attractive outlook, appearance, and being rare this species is highly wanted by turtle collectors and breeders.
The two members of this genus diverged from other living organisms about 40 million years ago.
Size and appearance
These tiny turtles are about 5 to 6 inches long and are one of the smallest species in the world. They have a dark unpatented shell with a yellow border, at the front and back they resemble a leaf so are called leaf turtles. They have partially webbed feet and unusually stacked-out large eyes. Female tails are a little bit shorter and thinner than males.
The Ryukyu leaf turtle is restricted to Okinawajima, Tokashikijima, and Kumejima islands of Japan but fossil record also indicate their presence in Iejima island in the past, which shows the wide distribution of these turtles in the past. Recently a few individuals of this species are introduced to some other islands artificially.
Habitat and Ecology
Geoemyda japonica is basically terrestrial likes a humid environment and occasionally goes to fresh water. It is found mainly around the primary and well-developed dense forests. For hibernation, these species use small caves, fallen trees, cracks, crevices in large rocks, and spaces under rocks. Feral dogs, cats color-bred snakes, Ryukyu wild boar, and mongooses are their predators.
They usually feed on insects, worms, dead fish, and grubs. They also feed on decaying fruit on the forest floor and collect insect larvae, so are classified as herbivores.
Behavior and reproduction
During the hot and rainy seasons, they are more active including increased mating behavior. Turtles are oviparous Black-breasted leaf turtles produce eggs from June to august. Takara (1969) reported that 4-6 elongated eggs are laid by females approximately 45mm in length, on sandy slopes which incubate for 40 to 65 days.
The average life of a black-breasted leaf turtle is 20 years.
Ryukyu leaf turtles have declined and reproductively isolated populations in islands of Japan.
Threats to survival
The greatest factor responsible for reducing the population of Ryukyu leaf turtle is habitat destruction and reduction due to land development.
Illegal collection of the species as a pet is also responsible for its reducing number.
According to a survey by Chigira, with other small vertebrates leaf turtles are trapped in steep-sided gutters on the sides of mountain roads in their habitat, once trapped they are unable to escape from the gutter by themselves resulting in death. On mountain roads, a few turtles are also subjected to mortality.
Conservation Measures proposed
The most important and urgent conservation measure for the Ryukyu leaf turtle is to secure and preserve the natural forests and mountain streams that are its natural habitats.
According to research Ryukyu leaf turtle readily habituates to captive environments, and husbandry is very simple thus the species could also breed in captivity easily which would be helpful to increase the population.
Work for conservation
The Turtle Conservancy has been dedicated to Ryukyu leaf turtle. A group of these turtles at the California conservation center have produced many offsprings. The organization is also working for the awareness of the Japanese people for the protection of this endangered species.
Japan Environment Agency has also started long-term monitoring projects on the Okinawajima and Tokashshikijima populations of this turtle which have the support of the local people as well. Geoemyda japonica Fan 1931 – Ryukyu Black-Breasted Leaf Turtle, Okinawa Black-Breasted Leaf Turtle (iucn-tftsg.org)[PDF] Geoemyda japonica Fan 1931 – Ryukyu Black-Breasted Leaf Turtle , Okinawa Black-Breasted Leaf Turtle | Semantic ScholarRyukyu black-breasted leaf turtle – WikipediaYasukawa, Yuichirou; Ota, Hidetoshi (2008-05-15). “Geoemyda Japonica Fan 1931 – Ryukyu Black-Breasted Leaf Turtle, Okinawa Black-Breasted Leaf Turtle” (PDF). Chelonian Research … Continue reading For Photo creditBy User:OpenCage – http://opencage.info/pics/large_17197.asp, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20781599
|↑1||Geoemyda japonica Fan 1931 – Ryukyu Black-Breasted Leaf Turtle, Okinawa Black-Breasted Leaf Turtle (iucn-tftsg.org)|
|↑2||[PDF] Geoemyda japonica Fan 1931 – Ryukyu Black-Breasted Leaf Turtle , Okinawa Black-Breasted Leaf Turtle | Semantic Scholar|
|↑3||Ryukyu black-breasted leaf turtle – Wikipedia|
|↑4||Yasukawa, Yuichirou; Ota, Hidetoshi (2008-05-15). “Geoemyda Japonica Fan 1931 – Ryukyu Black-Breasted Leaf Turtle, Okinawa Black-Breasted Leaf Turtle” (PDF). Chelonian Research Monographs. Chelonian Research Foundation. 5 (5): 002.1–6|
|↑5||By User:OpenCage – http://opencage.info/pics/large_17197.asp, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20781599|