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Species Description

The golden coin turtle (Cuora trifasciata) or Chinese three-striped box turtle is a species of turtle endemic to southern China and northern Vietnam.

The species is distributed in China (Guangdong, Guangxi, Fujian, Hainan provinces as well as Hong Kong and Macau) and northern Vietnam. The populations from other parts of Vietnam and Laos are now regarded a separate species, the Vietnamese three-striped box turtle (C. cyclornata).

It hybridizes vigorously with its relatives in captivity and in the wild, and hybrids may be fertile. Several of these have been described as new species, such as the Fujian pond turtle ("Mauremys" × iversoni), a hybrid between (usually) males of this species and females of the Asian yellow pond turtle (Mauremys mutica). In addition, the golden coin turtle is suspected to be a parent of the supposed species Chinese false-eyed turtle and Philippen's striped turtle.

The species is considered critically endangered with extinction by the IUCN. It is used in folk medicine, e.g. as the key ingredient for the Chinese medicinal dessert guīlínggāo (龜苓膏); thus it is under threat because of unsustainable hunting. This is one of the most endangered turtle species in the world, according to a 2003 assessment by the IUCN.[citation needed] C. trifasciata is listed among Turtle Conservation Coalition's 25 Most Endangered Tortoises and Freshwater Turtles.