A wide range of documents on ATP's activities, as well as news and general resources on tortoise and freshwater turtle conservation and links to useful websites:
- - Asian Turtle Program PDFs
- - General Resources for Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Conservation
- - Useful websites
From the 11th to 18th March 2017, 11 students from seven Vietnamese universities (including one Laotian student studying in Vietnam) gathered at Cuc Phuong National Park, Ninh Binh province, northern Vietnam to take part in the 13th Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle (TFT) Field Skill Training Course. The 8-day long training has been hosted by the Asian Turtle Program (ATP) in collaboration with Turtle Conservation Centre (TCC) of Cuc Phuong National Park since 2005.
From the 03rd to 06th March 2017, six keepers and veterinary staff from three rescue centres (including the Center for Rescue and Conservative Organism (CRCO) of Hoang Lien National Park; Me Linh Biodiversity Station of the Institute Of Ecology And Biological Resources (IEBR) and the Wildlife Rescue Centre of Pu Mat National Park) in Vietnam gathered in Cuc Phuong National Park to take part in the three-day long Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle (TFT) Captive Management Skill Training Course.
On the 4th March 2017, over 30 staff from General Motors Vietnam (GMVN) came to the Turtle Conservation Centre (TCC) in Cuc Phuong National Park, Vietnam, to spend one-day learning about the tortoises and freshwater turtles of Vietnam with an introduction to turtle ecology and some information on the threats and need for conservation. The General Motor Vietnam team then worked closely with the TCC keepers to help with some daily tasks at the centre, building turtle snags, changing water for the aquatic species and preparing the turtle diets for feeding.
An Indochinese Box Turtle (Cuora galbinifrons) enjoys a soak in the stream enclosure as spring warms up at the Turtle Conservation Centre (TCC), Cuc Phuong National Park in Vietnam. The Asian Turtle Program (ATP) and the Turtle Conservation Centre (TCC) always need helps with support of the rescue and care of animals at the centre.
In Cuc Phuong National Park in northern Vietnam we have been working to build some outdoor waterfall enclosures for the endangered Big-headed Turtle (Platysternon megacephalum). The species needs cool, flowing, fresh water to survive, but being highly aggressive they cannot be kept in groups. With almost 200 of the species rescued from the wildlife trade since 2015, many with serious injuries, the centre has been able to recover about 75% of these animals. Now we hope to keep a small group at the centre for research and breeding and in spring of 2017 we want to release most of these animals back to the wild.
A day in the life of the Turtle Conservation Centre of Cuc Phuong National Park, Vietnam where we are constantly working hard to care for endangered tortoises and freshwater turtles rescued from the wildlife trade.
From the 28th - 29th of November 2016 a workshop was held in Cuc Phuong commune, Ninh Binh province to develop a 'National Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Conservation Plan to 2025, with a vision to 2030. The workshop was co-hosted by the Biodiversity Conservation Agency (BCA) of the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment (MoNRE) and the Asian Turtle Program (ATP) of Indo Myanmar Conservation (IMC).
On the 05th November 2016, Economic police of Quang Ninh province, near the border with China in northern Vietnam, confiscated 105 big-headed turtles (Platysternon megacephalum) and 149 Sunda pangolins (Manis javanica) weighing 738kg in total along with 172kg of pangolin scales (unidentified species). The shipment was being illegally transported in a refrigerated truck (number plate 92C-09397) from Quang Nam province to Mong Cai border gate. An initial investigation revealed that these animals were loaded in Nghe An and Ha Tinh province in central Vietnam.
On the 20th of October, 2016, Mr. Ngan Suon Hung, residing at Gia Nghia Town, Dak Nong province contacted the ATP through its Facebook page messenger regarding handing in one juvenile endangered impressed tortoise (Manouria impressa) for conservation. Mr. Hung had bought the animal from a local hunter three days ago in his home town. Due to the distance from Dak Nong to the Turtle Conservation Centre (TCC) in Cuc Phuong National Park it was unrealistic to transfer the animal. Guidance was given on how to take care of this sensitive species in terms of food and diet and other basic needs while the ATP sought a suitable solution.
On the 20th of October, 2016, the Police of Duy Tien district, Ha Nam province, south of Hanoi confiscated four critically endangered Indochinese box turtles (Cuora galbinifrons), two endangered Chinese stripe-necked turtles (Mauremys sinensis), one endangered Keeled box turtle (Cuora mouhotii), and 7 Oldham's leaf turtle (Cyclemys oldhamii) being transported illegally by one woman on the regular coach from Ha Tinh to Hanoi. In addition, this shipment also included three geckos (Gekko gecko), one Sunda pangolin (Manis javanica) and one King cobra (Ophiophagus hannah).
On the 17th of October, 2016, Economic Police of Hai Ba Trung District, Hanoi, Vietnam, in collaboration with the Hanoi Environmental Crime Prevention Police confiscated two critically endangered Indochinese box turtle (Cuora galbinifrons) being transported illegally by Nguyen Duc Dung residing in Phu Xuyen District, Hanoi. Following investigation at the object’s house, local authorities discovered five turtles of three endangered turtle species, including two individuals of Indochinese box turtle (Cuora galbinifrons), one individual of Bourret's box turtle (Cuora bourreti), and two keeled box turtles (Cuora mouhotii).
On the 14th of October, 2016, Police of Nghi Loc district, Nghe An province has investigated and discovered 18 endangered box turtles being transported illegally on a bus from Vinh city in Nghe An province to Hanoi.
At the end of September 2016 the Asian Turtle Program (ATP) of Indo Myanmar Conservation (IMC) has replaced the large 150m long 20m high net in Dong Mo Lake on the outskirts of Hanoi. The net is the only thing preventing the world’s only known wild Swinhoe’s Softshell Turtle (Rafetus swinhoei) from escaping when the dam is opened.
On the 4th of October 2016, Economic police of Thai Binh province stopped a truck with two individuals (Ngô Văn Hạnh and Lê Anh Đức) from Quang Binh Province. In the vehicle they found 61 Sunda pangolin (Manis javanica) and 37 Big-headed Turtles (Platysternon megacephalum).
Two highly endangered box turtles have now been added onto the IUCN Red List as critically endangered in September 2016. The Southern Vietnamese Box Turtle (Cuora picturata) is only know from the two provinces of Khanh Hoa and Phu Yen in south central Vietnam and Bourret's Box Turtle (Cuora bourreti) has a limited range in central Vietnam and across into Laos.
Over the weekend of the 24th - 25th of September 2016 the Asian Turtle Program (ATP) of Indo Myanmar Conservation (ATP) has brought together all of the local counterparts from across northern Vietnam who are working to monitor five sites for the worlds most endangered turtle, Swinhoe's Softshell Turtle (Rafetus swinhoei).
On the 22nd July 2016, 50 turtles belong to four species were transferring to the Cuc Phuong Turtle Conservation Centre (TCC) – Cuc Phuong National Park in Vietnam. They had all been rescued from the illegal wildlife trade by the law enforcement department and transferred to Soc Son Wildlife Rescue Centre (WRC) in June.
To improve UV provisions for turtle in captivity in Vietnam, on the 15th of June 2016, the Turtle Conservation Centre (TCC) Of Cuc Phuong National Park in corporation with the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), a charity devoted to the worldwide conservation of animal and their habitats, held a one-day training course on UV provision for the Asian Turtle Program staffs and TCC keepers.
At 4.30pm of the 24th of May 2016, Duy Tien District Police, Ha Nam province (northern Vietnam) confiscated 72 turtles of seven species, comprising 23 Indochinese box turtle (Cuora galbinifrons), 1 Bourret's box turtle (Cuora bourreti), 8 Impressed tortoise (Manouria impressa), 7 Big-headed turtle (Platysternon megacephalum), 6 Keeled box turtle (Cuora mouhotii), 1 Chinese stripe-necked turtle (Mauremys sinensis), and 26 Oldham’s leaf turtle (Cyclemys oldhami). The first four species are fully protected under Vietnamese law.
To celebrate the World Turtle Day, the Asian Turtle Program held an education program for students in Quang Nam Province, central Vietnam, to learn about turtles and tortoises of Vietnam and how to protect them. The presentation were leaded by officers at Asian Turtle Program and two volunteers from Bio-Environment faculty at Da Nang University.
In 2015, the Turtle Conservation Centre received 185 turtles in 08 confiscations and from individual animals handed in from the pet trade. This had been one of the busiest years for rescues at the centre in the past decade. These numbers do not necessarily reflect an increase in animals being traded in Vietnam, but rather the improvement in confiscation and placement mechanisms in the country to deal with the wildlife trade.
Despite a number of changes to captive enclosures in 2015 with the construction of secure paired breeding tanks for the Vietnamese Pond Turtle (Mauremys annamensis) the species has bred very well at the Turtle Conservation Centre (TCC) of Cuc Phuong National Park in Vietnam. In all 25 new hatchlings emerged at the centre with some individuals being found in the semi-wild ponds and stream enclosures.
There have been recent news stories focused on wether a replacement turtle should be put into the lake to maintain the legend in someway. It has been suggested that the only other known remaining Swinhoe’s Softshell Turtle in Vietnam inhabits Dong Mo Lake west of Hanoi has been suggested. For many important reasons we view this as presently not a viable option and we encourage a discussion of the risks and alternatives.
When considering moving any large animal from the wild into such a small urbanized area such as Hoan Kiem lake the following are all considerations:
With passing of the Hoan Kiem Turtle in Hanoi many people are now considering the future of the species and what should be done. From a conservation and scientific perspective a number of approaches are available that could result in the long term restoration of the speices and potentially allow the legend of the giant turtles in Hoan Kiem to return one day.
It is with great sadness that Hanoi says farewell to a legend. Later on the afternoon of the 19th of January 2016 the body of the Hoan Kiem Turtle was found floating in central Hanoi's Hoan Kiem Lake. The turtle is famous in Vietnam with a 15th century legend relating to the giant animals that have inhabited the lake. In the legend King Le Loi was out on the lake following his victory over the invading Chinese army when a giant turtle emerged and took his magical sword that had been used in the battle. Following this the name of the lake was changed from the ‘Green Lake’ to Hoan Kiem Lake which translates as the ‘Lake of the Restored Sword’. Since this time the observation of a large turtle in the lake has often drawn crowds of spectators, with many Hanoian’s believing that seeing the turtle will bring good fortune.
From the 16th to 17th of December 2015, a special enforcement-training course was held in Thanh Hoa province, northern Vietnam, for 25 wildlife protection agency staffs, including Forest Protection Department (FPD), Environmental Police and Border Guards. The two-day course on ‘Law enforcement training to strengthen protection of rare and endangered reptiles in Vietnam’ was designed to focus on priorities tortoise and freshwater turtle species occurring within the province, as well as identifying priority sites for the conservation of turtles in the province.
On the evening of the 1st of November 2015, staff from the Asian Turtle Program (ATP) of Indo Myanmar Conservation (IMC) and Mr Do Thanh Hao of the Turtle Conservation Centre (TCC) of Cuc Phuong National Park were guest speakers at the Vietnam Forestry University, Hanoi. The 'Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle conservation Workshop' was held by the Green For Future Club, an environmental-oriented student club of the university. The workshop was attended by nearly 400 students from various Faculties within the university with a majority of them studying Environmental and Natural Resource Management.
Since the end of October 2015 it has been a busy time for the Turtle Conservation Centre (TCC) of Cuc Phuong National Park. In additional to the hectic schedule dealing with care of over 700 threatened tortoise and freshwater turtles of over 22 species and maintaining a quarantine population of almost 150 animals from recent confiscations, the centre has also had 3 film crews visiting this month.
On the morning of 21st November 2015, the Asian Turtle Program (ATP) of Indo-Myanmar Conservation (IMC) and Turtle Conservation Centre (TCC) of Cuc Phuong National Park, Vietnam worked with the iVet clinic in Hanoi to x-ray 45 Big Headed Turtles (Platysternon megacephalum) from the TCC. In total, from 42 live and 3 dead animals from recent confiscations X-rayed fish hooks were found in 2 dead animal and 4 live animals, some of these will need surgery to remove the hooks.
On the 14th of October 2015, Education for Nature – Vietnam (ENV) and its supporting partners, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Freeland, hosted the second annual "Outstanding Achievement Awards for Wildlife Protection" ceremony to honour five law enforcement officers and two journalists for their significant contributions to the protection of wildlife in Vietnam. The ceremony also acknowledged official corporate and media partners, as well as notable contributions from civil society and the public.
A large confiscation of tortoise and freshwater turtles has been made on the 21st of September 2015 in Hanoi, Vietnam, with 237 animals. Comprising approximately 100 individuals of two Indochinese Box Turtle species (Cuora galbinifrons, Cuora bourreti), over 50 Keeled Box Turtles (Cuora mouhotii) and over 30 Big-headed Turtles (Platysternon megacephalum) and a small number of Leaf Turtles (Cyclemys sp.).
A significant breakthrough in the illegal online trade of tortoises and freshwater turtles in Vietnam was made recently. On the 6th of August 2015 the investigation Police Agency of Ha Dong Police, Hanoi, reported that they had arrested and prosecuted Mr Dinh Cong Thanh (born in 1987 in Thai Nguyen province, Vietnam) for violating the provisions stipulated in Article 190 - the Criminal Code of Vietnam on “rare and endangered wildlife protection”.
Since 2008, the Asian Turtle Program (ATP) of Indo-Myanmar Conservation (IMC) has been conducting various activities in order to raise awareness of local people toward the threats facing Vietnamese Pond Turtle (Mauremys annamensis) and the importance to its protection. Activities such as community football matches, awareness signboards and annual secondary school programs have all played a part.
From the 07th to the 10th of September 2015, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), the Centre for Rescue and Conservative Organism (CRCO) of Hoang Lien National Park (Lao Cai Province, Northern Vietnam) organised a Chelonian and Amphibian Field Skills and Husbandry Training Course for eight staffs of the CRCO.
On the morning of 14th of August 2015 a car was stopped in Village 3, Nghi Kim Commune, Vinh City, Nghe An province, in north central Vietnam by the environmental police of the province. The car which was driven by Nguyen Thi Quyen who lives in the province. 16 live turtles (3.4 kg) and 1 pangolin (5.5kg) were confiscated from the vehicle as Ms Nguyen could not provide legal documentation for the animals.
In a new development, 2015 has seen the first case of useful field record information for tortoise and freshwater turtles in Vietnam being submitted from local communities. On the 17th of June 2015 the Asian Turtle Program (ATP) office in Hanoi received a phone call from a young, 18 year old, man from the Hang ethnic group in Quynh Nhai district of Son La province in the mountainous northwest of Vietnam.
On the 20th of July 2015, 20 Malayan Snail-eating turtles (Malayemys subtrijuga) were successfully transferred to the Turtle Conservation Center (TCC) in Cuc Phuong National Park from the Da Nang province Forest Protection Department (FPD). Da Nang FPD had confiscated the animals on the 14th of July 2015 in Hoa Chau commune, Hoa Vang district from a local trader.
From the 16th to the 17th of July 2015 a special enforcement training course was held in Phu Yen province of central Vietnam for 20 wildlife protection agency staff, including Forest Protection Department (FPD), Fisheries and Environmental Police. The two-day course on ‘Law enforcement training to strengthen protection of rare and endangered reptiles in Vietnam’ was designed to focus on priorities tortoise and freshwater turtle species occurring within the province, as well as identifying priority sites for the conservation of turtles in the province.
On the 9th of July 2015, two Russian nationals were detained after their exotic stash was detected by a Certis CISCO aviation security officer at Singapore’s Changi Airport. The men were trying to smuggling 206 live Black Pond Turtles (Geoclemys hamiltonii) from Bangladesh to Surabaya, Indonesia. On the 14th of October 2015, the men were each sentenced to 15 months’ jail for the attempted smuggling.
From the 13th - 21st July 2015 the Asian Turtle Program (ATP) of Indo-Myanmar Conservation (IMC) supported the kids football event in Yen Bai commune, Ba Vi district, Hanoi. In all eight teams from eight villages in the commune participated. The players aged from 11-14 years old, most of them were from the Muong ethnic group, a group that makes up 1.5% of the population of Vietnam where 54 ethnic groups are found. During the matches around 600-700 spectators watched the games.
On the 1st of July 2015, Sally Jewell , U.S. Secretary of the Interior, visited Cuc Phuong National Park, Ninh Binh province, Vietnam to tour the Endangered Primate Research Centre, Pangolin Conservation Program and Turtle Conservation Centre.
On the 15th of June 2015 the annual meeting was held for local fishermen around Dong Mo Lake in the outskirts of Hanoi. During the meeting contracts are determined for the coming year and since 2012 the ATP has also worked with the local lake owner, fishermen, and wildlife protection authorities, including the Forestry Protection Department (FPD) and local police. During the 2015 meeting all 42 fishermen signed the no hunting agreements, in which they recognise the importance and protected status of the species. The use of dangerous and prohibited equipment such as electro-fishing equipment, or long hook line set specifically for softshell turtles are also not allowed.
According to local language news on the 28th of June 2015 at 16:00 hours policeman were involved in a motorbike chase in which 26 lives turtles were recovered. In the Northern Vietnamese district of Cao Loc in Lang Son province that borders with China, the police tried to stop a motorcyclist who was seen behaving suspiciously. However the motorbike refused to stop and attempted to escape, as the driver fled the left behind a container containing 26 live turtles weighing a total of 82kg.
Efforts continue to search for more animals in the wild. On the 10th of May 2015 the Forest Protection Department (FPD) of a northern province in Vietnam contacted the Asian Turtle Program (ATP) of Indo-Myanmar Conservation (IMC) in Hanoi to report having discovered a giant Softshell turtle in a large lake. A rapid survey between the 19th and 22nd of May 2015 by the ATP corroborate this information. During 20 interviews with locals 11 people reported having seen a huge Softshell turtle in the past, most sightings being around a decade ago.
On the 10th of June 2015 the Forest Protection Department (FPD) in Ninh Binh Province, Northern Vietnam, confiscated 27 endangered Big-headed Turtles (Platysternon megacephalum) and a single Wattle-necked Softshell Turtle (Palea steindachneri). Unfortunately two Big-headed Turtles were in very poor condition after the confiscation and died only hours later. The remaining 25 Big-headed Turtles along with the Wattle Necked Softshell Turtle were transferred to the Turtle Conservation Centre (TCC) in Cuc Phuong National Park, Ninh Binh Province. Many of the remaining animals are in poor condition and being cared for at the centre’s quarantine facility.
Through efforts by the ATP, Dong Mo Lake in Son Tay District of Hanoi was confirmed in 2007 to have wild Swinhoe’s Softshell Turtles surviving when a single individual was photographed in the wild. A program of conservation was then initiated with awareness and monitoring of the site. The lake has remained relatively well protected through this local community support since then. But recently long lines of hooks have been found within the turtles habitat, although these smaller hook lines are set for the much smaller Chinese Softshell Turtle (Pelodiscus sinensis) they still pose a threat to their larger relative. If entangled the Swinhoe’s Softshell Turtle in the lake could be injured or killed.
Over a decade since the first Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Field Skill Training Course was held in Cuc Phuong National Park, Vietnam, the course continues to be a hit with University students and young conservationists alike. This year the training, which was held from the 28th of March to the 4th of April 2015, included 10 participants, 6 undergraduate students from national universities, one of them was a Laotian student, one Masters candidate, one lecturer from Bac Giang University, one ranger from a Bach Ma National park and one conservation officer from Mui Ca Mau biosphere reserve area.
The Asian Turtle Program (ATP) of Indo-Myanmar Conservation (IMC) has taken the cultural importance of the giant turtle species to promote conservation of the species at the site. Rowing traditional boats on Dong Mo Lake is an almost daily activity for most of the 50 fishermen working the lake, as well as for local residents who are used to life so close to the water. Much of the community depends on the lake for their economic survival. In the past boat racing was never a consideration within the local community.
From 25th of February to the 3rd of March 2015, the Asian Turtle Program (ATP) of Indo-Myanmar Conservation (IMC) in collaboration with Kim Son commune Youth Union organized the fifth football event to promote the world rarest turtle, the Hoan Kiem turtle (Rafetus swinhoei). Only four individuals of the species are known in existence in the world, of those, two individual are living in Suzhou zoo, China; two are living in Vietnam with one known as the "Cụ Rùa" (which could imply “Grandfather or Grandmother Turtle’ as the term does not infer gender) in Hanoi’s Hoan Kiem lake and one in Dong Mo lake, Son Tay district, Hanoi, Vietnam.
The Lunar New Year, known as the Tet holiday, in Vietnam is the longest and most significant national holiday, on average lasting five days. The Tet holiday signifies the end of the long cool winter and the start of a new year of agricultural production and prosperity. This year the Asian Turtle Program (ATP) of Indo-Myanmar Conservation (IMC) cooperated with the local Youth Union Department of Binh Khuong commune, Binh Son district in Vietnam’s central Quang Ngai province to organise a volleyball competition during the Tet holiday.
From the 3rd to the 9th of February 2015, two no fishing zones were created in Dong Mo lake, Son Tay district, Hanoi, Vietnam. The zones which have been constructed by the Asian Turtle Program (ATP) of Indo Myanmar Conservation (IMC) help protect important areas, the largest is 17 ha in the deepest section of the lake where the turtle is most often seen surfacing and active. The smaller 1.4 ha is located in front of a recently constructed sand bank built to provide a nesting opportunity for turtles in the lake. The zones were proposed in a bid to conserve the Hoan Kiem turtle (Rafetus swinhoei), considered the world’s rarest turtle with only four living animals known in existence and Dong Mo Lake in Northern Vietnam being the only known wild location where a single animal has been confirmed surviving.
From the 12th to 17th January 2015, staffs from the Asian Turtle program (ATP) have worked to create an artificial nesting beach for Swinhoe’s Softshell Turtle (Rafetus swinhoei) in Dong Mo Lake, Hanoi, Vietnam. The lake is the only known wild habitat for the critically endangered species for which only four animals are currently known in existence globally, two in China's Souzhou Zoo, one in Hanoi's downtown Hoan Kiem Lake which is considered a sacred animal and one confirmed in Dong Mo lake in 2007 by the ATP.
From the 17th - 20th of January 2015, Dr Peter Pritchard has been visiting northern Vietnam. As one of the world’s most highly regarded turtle scientists, it has been a pleasure to have him in Hanoi. During the visit on the 17th of January, Dr Pritchard visited Hoan Kiem Lake with the ATP team to meet Vietnam’s own expert on the Hoan Kiem Turtle (Rafetus swinhoei), Professor Ha Dinh Duc and Nguyen Xuan Thuan who was the first to photograph the species in the wild. Thanks to this memorable meeting, Dr Pritchard and Professor Duc had the opportunity to catch up on the many past trips during which they have met.
Recently, many people from local mountain areas in Phu Yen have ceased faming jobs to chase the Vietnamese Pond turtle (Mauremys annamensis), now it’s called golden turtle (rua vang). Experts in hunting yellow turtles shared, turtles preferred to inhabit in watered-areas like canals, ponds, rivers.
2014 has seen many significant developments at the turtle conservation centre (TCC) in Cuc Phuong National Park, Vietnam. The TCC, with support from the Asian Turtle program (ATP), has made some new additions to the centre. One of the new pieces of equipment is an incubator chiller, this specially built unit has been constructed from a modified drinks chiller with three heated incubation boxes inside. This allows for the TCC to incubate eggs at three different temperatures between 25oC and 30°C even in the summer.
2014 has been a busy year for turtle rescues in Hanoi, 28 turtles of 6 species (Indotestudo elongata, Cuora mouhotii, Cuora picturata, Geoemyda spengleri, Manouria impressa and Malayemys subtrijuga) have been handed into the Asian Turtle Program (ATP) office in Hanoi for transferring down to the Turtle Conservation Centre (TCC) in Cuc Phuong National Park, Vietnam. The majority of these animals have been brought in as a result of the growing trade trend in Hanoi, in which demand for exotics such as tortoises and freshwater turtles along with lizards, geckos and snakes seems to be growing.
On the 13th of October 2014, a local resident found an individual of Impressed tortoise (Manouria impressa) on the road near a village not far from the banks of Dong Mo lake, Son Tay district, Hanoi, Vietnam. The lake is the only known habitat for Swinhoe's Softshell Turtle (Rafetus swinhoei) and has no no historical of hard shell turtle live around in the area. The appearance of a Impressed Tortoise, a species known for living in lush forest on high mountains would indicate the animal had escaped from somewhere nearby or had been released into the Ke Dam temple next to the lake for religious reasons.
On the 11th September 2014 (14th August 2014 following the Lunar calendar), the ATP and Youth Union of Kim Son commune held a special event. “The Hoan Kiem Turtle Mid-autumn Festival”. At the event, traditional games were played such as blindfolded capture the duck, strike the water filled piñatas and sac races as well as traditional singing and dancing for villages from the Son Tay, Ba Vi area of Hanoi. The festival is an opportunity for farmers to relax after their exhausting work of the rice harvest. It is also a chance for students to celebrate the traditional Moon Festival meaningfully before the start of the new school year.
In the 1980 and 1990’s, Mr Nguyen Van Nhan living in Thanh Hoa province of Vietnam was well known in his local community as a hunter of giant softshells. These were Swinhoe’s Softshell Turtle (Rafetus swinhoei), better known in Vietnam as the Hoan Kiem Turtle that can grow to over 150kg in size. They are now considered the worlds rarest turtle with only four animals known in existence. Using a techniques of harpoons and long baited hook lines to ensnare the giant animals he claims to have caught over 20 individuals in his lifetime.
On the 27th March 2014, during the annual Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Field Skill Training Course held in Cuc Phuong National Park, the students discovered a total of 8 Keeled box turtles (Cuora mouhotii) while conducting an interview survey practical in SAM2 village in the buffer zone of Cuc Phuong National Park. In their interview they found out that the turtles were caught while the locals were collecting snails in the forest of Cuc Phuong National Park.
On the 23rd of April 2014, Quang Ngai City Environmental Police and the Forest Protection Department (FPD) of Quang Ngai province, central Vietnam, confiscated 21.3 kilograms of wild animals following the inspection of luggage at Chin Nghia Bus station in the city. In the cargo hold of a coach a suspect was travelling on they found two cases containing nine turtles and seven snakes.
From 22nd – 30th March 2014, the Asian Turtle Program (ATP) of Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and the Turtle Conservation Central (TCC) of Cuc Phuong National Park held the 10th annual Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle (TFT) field skill training course for students, young biologists and forestry protection officers at the National Park in Ninh Binh Province, Vietnam.
From the 3rd to 11th February 2014 the Asian Turtle Program (ATP) of Cleveland Metro Park Zoo and the Youth Union of Kim Son commune, Son Tay district, Hanoi held a football turtle cup to promote awareness to conserve Swinhoei Softshell Turtle (Rafetus swinhoei) in a stadium next too Dong Mo Lake. The lake is the only known wild habitat for the species, also considered the worlds most threated turtles species with only four animals known in existence golbally.
On the 1st of December 2013, staff from the ATP gave more than 150 books about wildlife, the environment and conservation to establish conservation libraries at three Secondary schools in Binh Son district, Quang Ngai province. The area has been identified as a priority site for conservation of the Vietnamese pond turtle. It is hoped that the library along with environmental and conservation lessons and community awareness activities will help increase support for conservation amongst the next generation.
Community support of protection of the Dong Mo turtle is growing following seven years of monitoring and awareness by the Asian Turtle Program (ATP) at the lake. The authorities in Vietnam have helped rescue the turtle once already when a dam break in 2008 resulted in a 69kg Rafetus swinhoei escaping and being captured downstream. The turtle was fortunate rescued and returned to Dong Mo.
The Turtle Conservation Center (TCC) in Cuc Phuong National Park has today welcomed home 71 endemic Vietnamese pond turtles (Mauremys annamensis) after a long journey from Europe, where two zoos have been breeding the critically endangered species.
On the 17th of June 2013 the Turtle Conservation Centre (TCC) in Cuc Phuong National Park, Vietnam, received three rare turtles from Hanoi after a local resident realised the importance of the endangered turtles after learning about the TCC and the centre's turtle conservation efforts on ‘Facebook'.
Increasingly popular in Asia Facebook in Vietnam alone is reported to have over 12 million users. The site has also offered conservation and development NGO's to reach a wider audience with both the Asian Turtle Program (ATP) and TCC gaining popularity with the Vietnamese public.
After several years of hiatus, the Turtle Conservation Centre (TCC) of Cuc Phuong National Park has hatched five endangered (IUCN Red List, 2011) Yellow-headed Temple turtles (Heosemys annandalii) this month.
In December 2012, while feeding these long term captive adult turtles, a keeper surprisingly discovered a newly laid nest with a clutch of six eggs. Despite being at the TCC in a deep pool of a semi-wild enclosure for 8 years, this was the first clutch of eggs for Heosemys annandalii at the centre.
Turtle detection dogs from the Asian Turtle Program (ATP) achieved another success this week when they found an endangered Keeled box turtle (Cuora mouhotii) during this year's annual Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Field Skill Training Course in Cuc Phuong National Park.
From the 26th of February to the 6th of March 2013 members from the Asian Turtle Program (ATP) conducted 10 days of interview surveys in Quang Nam Province, central Vietnam. A focus of the survey was to evaluate the distribution, status and threats of two rare and critically endangered endemic turtle species in the province, the Vietnamese Pond Turtle (Mauremys annamensis) and Bourret's Box Turtle (Cuora bourreti) while collecting important information on other tortoise and freshwater turtles present in the province.
From the 11th to 16th of March 2013, the ATP under Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV) held an environmental education program in Nam Dong District. A series of community meetings and school programs brought attention to critical endangered turtles and the threats they face amongst local communities.
From the 21st-27th January 2013, members of the ATP team in Quang Ngai City spent time in Binh Son District, Quang Ngai Province, central Vietnam, for a weeklong trapping effort in an area slated to become a Species Habitat Conservation Area (SHCA) for endangered turtles. This is an area the Forest Protection Department (FPD) of Quang Ngai would like to set aside and protect for the critically endangered Vietnamese pond turtle (Mauremys annamensis). Currently, this species is not known from any protected areas, living in lowland wetland areas the species is at higher risk of extinction as wetland habitat are converted for rice production and the species is hunted for the wildlife trade where it has a high economic value.
On the 17th of October 2012, police and local Forest Protection Department (FPD) officers from Huong Son district (Ha Tinh province, Vietnam) pulled over a man who was transporting 50kg of turtles on his motorbike, driving on highway 8A through Son Bang commune heading for Vinh city (Nghe An province). The turtles were found wrapped with adhesive tape in a bag. The shipment included Elongated tortoises (Indotestudo elongata), Impressed tortoises (Manouria impressa), Asian Leaf turtles (Cyclemys oldhamii) as well as one critically endangered Indochinese Box turtle (Cuora galbinifrons) , one critically endangered Bourret's box turtle (Cuora bourreti) and two endangered Keeled box turtles (Cuora mouhotii).
Das, I., McCormack, T.E.M., van Dijk, P.P., Hoang, H.V., and Struijk, R.P.J.H. 2016. Cuora mouhotii (Gray 1862) – Keeled Box Turtle. In: Rhodin, A.G.J., Iverson, J.B., van Dijk, P.P., Saumure, R.A., Buhlmann, K.A., Pritchard, P.C.H., and Mittermeier, R.A. (Eds.). Conservation Biology of Freshwater Turtles and Tortoises: A Compilation Project of the IUCN/SSC Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group. Chelonian Research Monographs 5(9):099.1–12. [doi:10.3854/crm.5.099.mouhotii.v1.2016; http://www.iucn-tftsg.org/cbftt/
McCormack, T.E.M., Dawson, J.E., Hendrie, D.B., Ewert, M.A., Iverson, J.B., Hatcher, R.E., and Goode, J.M. 2014. Mauremys annamensis (Siebenrock 1903) – Vietnamese Pond Turtle, Annam Pond Turtle, Rùa Trung Bộ. In: Rhodin, A.G.J., Pritchard, P.C.H., van Dijk, P.P., Saumure, R.A., Buhlmann, K.A., Iverson, J.B., and Mittermeier, R.A. (Eds.). Conservation Biology of Freshwater Turtles and Tortoises: A Compilation Project of the IUCN/SSC Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group. Chelonian Research Monographs 5(7):081.1–14, doi:10.3854/crm.5.081.annamensis.v1.2014, http://www.iucn-tftsg.org/cbftt/.
Download the Kinixys Conservation Blueprint 2014 here. A comprehensive assessment to ensure the future of the genus. The resources provides excellent information and assessment of need to ensure the survival of the sub-Saharan African Hingeback Tortoises of which there are eight species in the genus. A great example of what is needed for many Asian tortoises and freshwater turtle species also.
October 2014 - New publication on using microsatellite markers to analyse genetic variability and divergence among five Asian box turtles species genus Cuora, focusing on Cuora trifasciata species complex. Cuora cyclornata now recognised as a full species distributed primarily in Vietnam.
New microsatellite markers allow high-resolution taxon delimitation in critically endangered Asian box turtles, genus Cuora. Salamandra From Tortsten Black
Tiedemann, R., Schneider, A.R.R., Havenstein, K., Blanck, T., Meier, E., Raffel, M., Zwartepoorte, H. & Plath, M. (2014): New microsatellite markers allow high-resolution taxon delimitation in critically endangered Asian box turtles, genus Cuora. Salamandra, 50 (3): 139-146 + Supplementary material
Bangkok, Thailand, 19th September 2014—Tortoises and freshwater turtles may be slow movers, but they are being smuggled at lightning speed through Thailand, with close to 19,000 seized in six years.
A new TRAFFIC report, Seizures of Tortoises and Freshwater Turtles in Thailand 2008-2013, analyses 53 reported seizures of tortoises and freshwater turtles in Thailand, over half of which took place at Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok.
The Ploughshare Tortoise Astrochelys yniphora is highly threatened by persistent demand in the black market pet trade. As a result, its numbers in the wild have been drastically reduced to approximately 400 adult specimens. Assessed as being Critically Endangered in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, these tortoises are stolen by poachers who sell them to unscrupulous traders, mainly in South-east Asia.
In Thailand, turtle release has been a traditional way of merit making for most of the Thais for all occasions, such as on birthdays, on auspicious occasions as well as when life is not going so well.
However, little is understood of how to release turtles and be confident that the freshwater turtles lead a good, long life thereafter.
This identification guide provides a brief introduction to the star-patterned tortoises potentially encountered by wildlife law enforcement officials. The taxonomy used here follows that currently recognized by CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). The emphasis here is on providing a photographic guide to identification, rather than a detailed biological key.
The three primary species commonly referred to as star-patterned tortoises (Family Testudinidae) include the Indian Star Tortoise (Geochelone elegans ), the Bumese Star Tortoise (Geochelone platynota), and the Radiated Tortoise (Astrochelys radiata). These three species are emphasized here. There are additional tortoises that may have star-like patterns on their shells. Some, but not all of these are also described or illustrated here.
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