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30kg Asiatic softshell turtle (Amyda cartilaginea) caught in Hanoi

On Monday the 17th of March 2014 security personnel of the Vinh Hung Restaurant and Ecotourism establishment caught a large Asiatic Softshell Turtle (Amyda cartilaginea), estimated to weigh over 30kg, in a small sport fishing lake in Hanoi.

The news quickly spread about the large turtle and it was not long before some traders reportedly offered Mr Nguyen Quoc Anh, the manager of Vinh Hung Restaurant and Ecotourism, 50 million Vietnamese dong ($2,374) for the rare animal. However, Mr Anh declined all offers, afraid the turtle would end up in a restaurant. Because of the size of the animal and its resemblance to the famous Hoan Kiem turtle (Rafetus swinhoei) he immediately thought about releasing his turtle to Hanoi's Hoan Kiem lake where the famous turtle matriarch resides.

The day after the turtle was caught newspapers in Vietnam were buzzing with the news, Pham Van Thong from the Asian Turtle Program (ATP) went to see the rare turtle and talk to Mr Anh. Advice was given about the Amyda cartilaginea which is not native to North Vietnam and concerns of releasing into Hoan Kiem lake were highlighted. Some risk does exist that the turtle could be attacked by the much larger Hoan Kiem Turtle. Possible outcomes could include injury or death to the large turtles, something that would be seen as a negative sign from the sacred lake whose large Rafetus swinhoei is worshiped by many. Options were suggested for the Asiatic softshell turtle: It could either be returned to South Vietnam to its native habitat or transferred to the Turtle Conservation Centre (TCC) in Cuc Phuong National Park where two animals of the same species are already being kept and cared for. At present no final decision has been made on the turtle which is still residing in a glass tank at the tourism area.

Interestingly Mr Anh had never seen such a turtle in the lake before, nor had his staff until the animal was caught. Although the Vinh Hung Restaurant and Ecotourism area is close to the Red River a large dyke and residential area occur between the lake and the river. As such it remains unclear how the turtle arrived in the lake or for how long it has been a resident.


22nd March 2014

Press release by Pham Van Thong & Sarah Wahl – Asian Turtle Program (ATP)


The large Amyda cartilaginea was kept on display in a large glass tank for visitors to view.

Many people were excited to hear of such a large soft-shell turtle in Hanoi.

The lake where caught the large Amyda cartilaginea was caught.


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Office: Room#1302, Thanh Cong Tower, 57 Lang Ha Street,
Ba Dinh, Hanoi, Vietnam

Tel: +84 (0) 4 3514 9750
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