On the Brink of Extinction: Results of a 20-Year Quest for Eiselt's Pond Turtle (Emys orbicularis eiselti) in Southeastern Turkey

Ayaz D., Bayrakci Y., Çiçek K., Ihlow F., TOK C. V., Fritz U.

Chelonian Conservation and Biology, vol.20, no.2, pp.222-230, 2021 (SCI-Expanded) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 20 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.2744/ccb-1505.1
  • Journal Name: Chelonian Conservation and Biology
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, Agricultural & Environmental Science Database, Aquatic Science & Fisheries Abstracts (ASFA), BIOSIS, CAB Abstracts, Environment Index, Greenfile, Veterinary Science Database
  • Page Numbers: pp.222-230
  • Keywords: Amik Maraş Rift Valley, Asi River, Critically Endangered, Emydidae, Lake Amik, Orontes River, Reptilia, Syria, Testudines, Turkey
  • Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University Affiliated: Yes


Eiselt's pond turtle (Emys orbicularis eiselti) was described in 1998, based on only 4 museum specimens collected in the 1960s and 1970s. Its distribution range has been massively reduced by large-scale drainage measures and only little suitable habitat remains near the Turkish-Syrian border. During 20-yr-long fieldwork we could locate only 18 individuals of this subspecies. We estimate the number of surviving Eiselt's pond turtles to be less than 100 mature individuals in the wild. The distribution range (area of occupancy) in the Amik Maraş Rift Valley shrank from originally 11,612 kmto only 206 kmat present (approx. 2), qualifying E. o. eiselti as a Critically Endangered taxon. Without immediate conservation measures and the strict protection of the remaining habitat, the subspecies will soon be extinct.