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Interview survey produce nearly 50 records for turtles in Central Vietnam

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. The team visited 9 districts where little information had previously being recorded. Conducting 61 interviews they made 49 new field records for animals observed in local households and trade, these included 6 field records for the critically endangered Bourret's box turtle. No new information was recorded for the critically endangered Vietnamese pond turtle which was not reported historically in the area either.

One professional turtle trader provided information about the historic presence of another critically endangered turtle found in the province, the Chinese Three-striped Box Turtle (Cuora trifasciata). Unfortunately this species is used in traditional medicines has resulted in extremely high prices and demand for the species in the illegal wildlife trade. This species has not been seen for quite some time in the region due to overexploitation.

Hydroelectric dams in the province have inundated considerable areas of low-elevation forest habitat, important for a number of species of turtles, including the keeled box turtle (Cuora mouhotii) and Bourret's box turtle (Cuora bourreti).

In the area of Đông Giang District which neighbours Sao La Nature Reserve and Bach Ma National Park reports were made that the Forestry Protection Department (FPD) is providing stricter enforcement. With hunting in the area reduced, including of turtles. The stricter enforcement here is from the efforts of FPD that are responsible for the Sao La Nature Reserve located within the district.

Overall, field records were made for 17 Cuora mouhotii (EN), 06 Cuora bourreti (CR), 09 Cuora galbinifrons sp. (CR) shells likely to be Cuora bourreti, 5 Cyclemys pulchristriata, 5 Manouria impressa (VU), 2 Pelodiscus sinensis (VU), and 5 Platysternon megacephalum (EN). The survey indicates that multiple forested sites in Quang Nam still maintain endangered turtle species, highlighting the need to monitor these areas and encourage FPD to sustain enforcement pressure to ensure conservation.


*CR = critically endangered, EN = endangered, VU = vulnerable; these listings are according to IUCN 2012

Press release by: Nguyen Thanh Luan - Asian Turtle Program
Date: 20th March 2013
Interviews conducted by: NguyenThanh Luan & Pham Thi Thu Hien – ATP

Download this press release PDF here: English pdf

Download this press release PDF here: Vietnamesepdf

Above: Pham Thi Thu Hien from the ATP interviews locals in Đòng village, Tà Lu commune, Đông Giang district, Quảng Nam province about turtles they have seen.

Above: A Bourret's box turtle (Cuora bourreti; CR) between two Big-headed turtle (Platysternon megacephalum; EN) at the home of a local in Rcung Village, Bhalee commune, Tây Giang district.

Above: Former lowland forest habitat in Tra Giat commune, Bac Tra My district, Quang Nam province where massive fluctuations of water level, up to 30m, can be seen caused by the recently constructed hydroelectric dams. Much lowland forest critical to a number of turtle species has been lost through inundation.


Thank you:


We sincerely thank Quang Nam Provincial FPD for their help in conducting the survey. We also thank the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) and Turtle Conservation Fund (TCF) for supporting the activity.

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For more information please contact:

Asian Turtle Program (ATP) - Indo-Myanmar Conservation
Office: Room#1806 CT1, C14 Bac Ha building, To Huu road, Nam Tu Liem district, Hanoi, Vietnam
PO Box 46
Tel: +84 (0) 4 7302 8389



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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)4 7302 8389

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