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Bondarenko D. A. History of Central Asian tortoise Agrionemys horsfieldii (Testudinidae, Reptilia) harvesting in Uzbekistan, and its population impact. Current Studies in Herpetology, 2022, vol. 22, iss. 4, pp. 95-104. DOI:

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History of Central Asian tortoise Agrionemys horsfieldii (Testudinidae, Reptilia) harvesting in Uzbekistan, and its population impact


The harvesting of the Central Asian tortoise has been a longstanding practice in Uzbekistan. Throughout the 1930s–1950s, this species was harvested to feed farm livestock and shepherd dogs, and during the World War II, tortoise meat was used to provide additional nutrition to the people. The 1960s marked the start of commercial trade in tortoises. The annual volumes of legal harvesting of wild tortoises started to grow in the late 1990s, and reached 85 thousand specimens per year by 2017. The size of the populations at regular harvesting locations has dropped, and their gender and age composition has changed. The CITES export quota for tortoises bred in captivity was increased in 2018–2019 without valid justification, although small breeding centers have no capacity to breed the manifested quantities of animals. Consequently, Uzbekistan currently exports ranched individuals as well as young wild tortoises, mis-declared as bred in captivity. The export of Central Asian tortoises from Uzbekistan should be suspended temporarily until an expert assessment of the situation is made, and penalties for poaching these animals should be made more severe.


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