Velo-Antón G, El Marnisi B, Fritz U, Fahd S


The distribution and conservation status of Emys orbicularis occidentalis is reviewed for Morocco. Populations are highly fragmented and vulnerable. The species is largely restricted to mountainous areas in the western Rif and Middle Atlas, with scattered observations of isolated individuals in the Gharb plain and the eastern Rif. Our literature survey and fieldwork indicate an accelerated regression of Emys populations along the Moroccan Atlantic coast due to habitat loss. At the same time, we found European pond turtles having a wider distribution in the Rif Mountains than previously known. However, in the central and western Rif, the species is increasingly threatened by expanding cannabis plantations. Other country-wide menaces include water pollution, catching of turtles for pets, desertification, and possibly competition with another terrapin species (Mauremys leprosa).


Journal: Vertebrate Zoology