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Invest in amphibians and reptiles

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Science  21 Jun 2019:
Vol. 364, Issue 6446, pp. 1144
DOI: 10.1126/science.aax7259

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  • RE: Lost in interpretation
    • Xiaoge Ping, 1 Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100101, China. 2 Endangered Species Scientific Commission of PR C
    • Other Contributors:
      • Zhigang Jiang, 1 Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100101, China. 2 Endangered Species Scientific Commission of PR C
      • Yan Zeng, corresponding author, 1 Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100101, China. 2 Endangered Species Scientific Commission of PR C

    The Yangtze giant softshell turtle (Rafetus swinhoei) was incorrectly described in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). In fact, the turtle was included in CITES Appendix Ⅲ in 2005 and has been up-listed to Appendix Ⅱ since 2013 (1). In October 2018, this species eventually received corresponding protection, as its Appendix Ⅱ inclusion was domestically ratified as the first class of Lists of Wildlife under Special State Protection in China (WSSPC) (2).
    In the past, all the Chinese giant softshell turtles were called Yuan in Chinese or treated as Pelochelys bibroni (3, 4). Thirty years ago, Yuan had been listed as first-class species in WSSPC, which is the same as the giant panda. About fifteen years ago, the living giant softshell turtles with yellow spots was regarded as Rafetus swinhoei, and Chinses academic communities and non-governmental organizations began to call for protection for this turtle. There have been filed surveys on possible habitats and artificial breeding programmes using limited existing individuals in the past. Given that it is Pelochelys bibroni in WSSPC, and no additional information on the classification or taxonomy of Rafetus swinhoei is provided, the Yangtze giant softshell turtle regains its status of a valid species but loses its conservation status because of its incongruent name. The rescue plan gets less attention and investment due to its low concerns based on natio...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.