The Nubian Flapshell Turtle | South Sudan & Uganda



Africa’s rarest turtle is an enigma. The last known individual in captivity died in 2009 in the US, and no turtles have been spotted in the wild for the last 25 years until the resend rediscovery 2019. Nubian flapshell turtles (Cyclanorbis elegans) can reach a shell length of up to 80 cm (31.5 inches), which makes it the largest species by far in the genus of flapshell turtles. Based on current data (Diagne T.2010, Luiselli L. 2011), the Nubian flapshell turtle is in great danger of becoming extinct soon. Turtle Island has made it one of its primary goals to help prevent the extinction of this magnificent species.


The IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature)has classified the Nubian flapshell turtle as Critically Endangered during the IUCN Red List workshop in Togo in 2013. The turtles of Africa are the least researched and the least known turtle species on our planet and are increasingly under pressure from habitat destruction and hunting for bushmeat. It hardly helps that the Nubian flapshell turtle lives in some of the least accessible and politically most volatile areas of Africa. These areas are highly endangered hotspots of biodiversity. After many years of searching Professor Luca Luiselli and his team finally found small remaining populations in southern Sudan and Uganda mainly in the White Nile River.


Turtle Island’s highest priority is to create an ex-situ breeding group, locate the last Nubian flapshell turtles, and protect their habitat. As there are large gaps in our knowledge about the taxonomy and the distribution of C. elegans. We know even less about the biology and ecology of this species. Population composition, diet and reproductive behavior have not been studied at all and are not described in scientific literature.