Due to false beliefs (of curing acne to cancer), the Golden Coin Turtle is one of the highest priced turtles in the trade, with prices for a single animal ranging from $20,000 to as high as $40,000. That's US$! Traditional Chinese Medicine has it place, but it is probably the single largest reason that so many unique and endangered animals are slaughtered mercilessly each day of each year. And the profits produced go mainly to organised crime gangs.
A couple of years ago a friend fished one of these out of a storm drain where it had been stuck and he was astonished when he checked what it was, and realised its value and he made sure it went immediately to Kadoorie Farm, where it could join their breeding programme. The critically endangered Golden Coin Turtles (Cuora trifasciata) have their ancestral home in southern China and these turtles are as endangered as mainland China’s Giant Pandas, and the wild areas of Hong Kong represent its last chance for continued existence in the wild.
Called the Golden Coin Turtle because of its golden head and high monetary value, this turtle is teetering on the brink of extinction due to the wildlife trade and the high value placed on it.
Eating the animal in a jelly called guilinggao is falsely believed to promote general well being, but it is also purported to be a cure for everything from acne to cancer.
A joint effort by the Fauna Conservation Department of KFBG and the Agriculture, Fisheries & Conservation Department (AFCD) of the Hong Kong Government is working to preserve and make safe the last Hong Kong refuges, and thus protect the remnant populations that exist. At the same time they are building an assurance colony of rescued animals that have entered an ex-situ breeding programme. Future releases will aim to boost remnant populations and repopulate suitable habitats, and the ecological niche, that this symbolic animal should occupy.