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27 Critically Endangered Big-headed Turtle rescued in Vietnam

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.

As a species the Big-headed Turtle is fully protected under national law in Vietnam and is normally found in much of south east Asia in fast flowing mountain streams, where the water is cool and clean. This is posing a problem for Cuc Phuong, which during the middle of a Vietnamese summer regularly experiences temperatures in the mid-30oCs. As an aggressive species it is also important the individuals are maintained separately to prevent fighting, which can often lead to serious injuries and stress. It is the intent of the centre to stabilise these animals, and provide a suitable captive environment. At present the species is poorly represented in captivity and suffering heavy exploitation from the wild it is the hope that these animals could be the start of a captive assurance population.

The TCC urgently needs urgent support to provide emergency and long term holding facilities for these animals. To make a donation or provide additional support please contact us through

Date: 20th June 2015
Press release by: Do Thanh Hao – TCC
& Timothy McCormack – ATP
Download this press release in English here

Download this press release in Vietnamese here


big-headed turtle Many of the animals are beautiful, large adults. The origin of these animals remains unknown but could be from a neighbouring country such as Lao PDR. Photo by: Nguyen Thu Thuy - ATP

big-headed turtleBig-Headed turtle (Platysternon megacephalum) confiscated in Ninh Binh province, Vietnam, on the 11th June 2015.  Photo by: Hao Do Thanh – TCC Cuc Phuong National Park


big-headed turtle
All the animals are now being maintained in quarantine in individual containers. Photo by: Hao Do Thanh - TCC

trapping big-headed turtle

The Asian Turtle Program (ATP) field team conducting trapping in Moc Chau district, Son la province and caught a yearling Platysternon megacephalum in August 2011. Photo by: ATP



Thank you

We would like to thank Ninh Binh Forest Protection Department (FPD) for their quick response in rescuing and transferring these animals to the Turtle Conservation Centre (TCC) in Cuc Phuong National Park.  We would also like to thank the Disney Conservation Fund for Nature and Cleveland Metroparks Zoo for their support, which makes such rescues possible.

disney cmz

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To see more on the Turtle Conservation Centre (TCC) and the work they are doing please visit their website:

For further information, please contact:
Turtle Conservation Centre (TCC) - Cuc Phuong National Park
Nho Quan Dist., Ninh Binh Prov., Vietnam
Tel: +84 (0) 3 0384 8090

Asian Turtle Program (ATP) - Indo-Myanmar Conservation
Office: Room#1806, C14 Bac Ha Building, To Huu road, Nam Tu Liem Dist., Hanoi, Vietnam
Po Box 46
Tel: +84 (0) 24 7302 8389


MBZ ATP would like to thanks the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund for supporting this website
Asian Turtle Program - Indo-Myanmar Conservation
Room#1806 CT1, C14 Bac Ha Building, To Huu Street, Nam Tu Liem District, Hanoi, Vietnam
PO Box 46
Phone:+84 (0) 24 7302 8389

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