Manouria emys (Schlegel and Müller 1840) – Asian Giant Tortoise, Giant Asian Forest Tortoise.

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 (ISSN 1088-7105) No. 5, doi:10.3854/crm.5.086.emys.v1.2015, http://www.iucn-tftsg.org/cbftt/.


The Giant Asian Forest Tortoise, Manouria emys (Family Testudinidae), is the largest tortoise species in mainland Asia, with a straight carapace length (CL) of up to at least 600 mm, and mass up to 37 kg. Two subspecies, M. e. emys and M. e. phayrei, are distinguished by geographic distribution, coloration, plastral scute pattern, and maximum size. Manouria is considered to be among the most primitive of living tortoise genera. The species occurs in hilly wet forest; its diet includes green vegetation, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and fallen fruits. Unlike most tortoises, which tend to prefer relatively arid habitats, M. emys prefers a mesic habitat and is often found in and around cool flowing streams, sitting for days in water or mud, or foraging in such habitats. Although the species is active all year round, some individuals exhibit an inactive period of up to two months in the cool dry season. The species exhibits unusual nesting activity; females build mound nests of forest floor debris, deposit large annual clutches of up to 60 eggs, and guard the nest for the early portion of incubation. Despite their size, the behavioral ecology of M. emys has been little studied. The species has apparently been extirpated in the westernmost portion of its range and is highly threatened everywhere else. Healthy populations are known to occur in a few protected areas in Thailand and Indonesia, but most remaining habitat is being rapidly degraded and destroyed, and the species continues to be collected for food and smuggled into the pet trade.


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