Comments on the proposed conservation of usage of Testudo gigantea Schweigger, 1812 (currently Geochelone (Aldabrachelys) gigantea; Reptilia, Testudines) 4

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2009
Authors:Althaus, T
Journal:Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature
Volume:66
Issue:4
Start Page:356
Pagination:356-357
Date Published:12/2009
Type of Article:Comment
ISSN:0007-5167
Full Text

In my function as acting Chair of the CITES Animals Committee (since 2002), I write these lines to you in regard to the issue of stabilising the name of the Giant Aldabra Tortoise as Testudo gigantea. I wish to support the opinion expressed by Dr Ute Grimm (BZN 66: 283) and confirm that this represents the position of the CITES Animals Committee

For many years now it has been the policy of the Animals Committee and its nomenclature specialists to agree to and adopt taxonomic name changes of CITESlisted species only very reluctantly and very conservatively. The reason is that any change in nomenclature and in particular in CITES nomenclature leads to a highly complicated and expensive chain of follow-up events like adjusting each and every document, publication (including legislation) and computer file on trade data etc. in the 175 CITES Parties, not to mention the adjustment of every instruction material, identification manual and the information about this for all stakeholders (traders, scientific institutions, border control agents, government agencies etc.). The conservation gain for the species involved from such an exercise, which binds a lot of resources, is practically zero or could have even a negative impact on the species concerned, as described by Dr Grimm in her comment. It is therefore no surprise that the Animals Committee supports that the names Aldabrachelys and Testudo gigantea for the Giant Aldabra Tortoise be conserved and T. dussumieri Gray, 1831 be suppressed.

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