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15% of the world’s top 25 most endangered tortoise and freshwater turtles
are found in Vietnam.

Vietnam now has four species, accounting for 14.8% of top 25 the world’s most endangered Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle (TFT) species.  This ranks Vietnam second in the list of countries with the largest number of TFT species in the world, with China ahead with six species (22.2%). A further five Vietnamese species are listed within the top 50 most endangered for a total of nine species (18%), these status are according to the newest version of the report, “Turtles In Trouble: The World’s 25+ Most Endangered Tortoises and Freshwater Turtles — 2018” published by Turtle Conservation Coalition.

Of the four TFT species of Vietnam listed in the top 25+, the world’s rarest turtle, the Swinhoe’s softshell turtle (Rafetus swinhoei) is only known in the wild from as single individual confirmed in Dong Mo Lake, on the outskirts of Hanoi, Vietnam.  Recent sightings of large softshell turtles by the Asian Turtle Program (ATP) of Indo Myanmar Conservation (IMC) at potential sites has brought hope that more individuals will be confirmed in the near future.

Three other native species of Vietnam listed in top 25+ were Vietnamese Pond Turtle (Mauremys annamensis) almost expatriated from the wild, Zhou’s Box Turtle (Cuora zhoui) believed to occur in the wild of northern mountainous area of Vietnam although the species has never been found in the wild and its habitat still remains a mystery, and the Southern River Terrapin (Batagur affinis) which is sadly already believed to be extinct in from the large river systems in southern Vietnam but still survives in Cambodia and Malaysia.

Vietnam also has five more TFT species, the Southern Vietnam Box Turtle (Cuora picturata) found only in Khanh Hoa and Phu Yen provinces, the Indochinese Box Turtle (Cuora galbinifrons) from northern regions of the country, and Bourret’s Box Turtle (Cuora bourreti) in central Vietnam, and the Vietnamese Three-striped Box Turtle (Cuora cyclornata) a recently described species following the genetic evaluation of the Chinese Three Striped Box Turtle (Cuora trifasciata) with the Asian Giant Softshell Turtle (Pelochelys cantorii) from large river systems in the country also listed in the list of top 50 most threatened species globally. This makes Vietnam also ranks second in the list of countries with the largest number of threatened TFT in the world with nine species, accounting for 18% of the top 50.

Additionally, report also identified three other native species of Vietnam, the Keeled Box Turtle (Cuora mouhotii), the Big-headed Turtle (Platysternon megacephalum), and the Yellow Pond Turtle (Mauremys mutica) as other threatened species outside the top 50, assessed as critically endangered.

The details were revealed in the report - Turtles in Trouble: The World’s 25+ Most Endangered Tortoises and Freshwater Turtles – 2018 which can be downloaded at the Asian Turtle Program website.  

Download the English version here

Download the Vietnamese version here

Rafetus swinhoei

Above: Rafetus swinhoei photo captured during the rescue of the Dong Mo turtle in November 2011 when the dam broke at Dong Mo Lake. Photo by: Timothy McCormack – ATP/IMC.

 

Mauremys annamensis

Above: A hatchling Vietnamese Pond Turtle (Mauremys annamensis) in captivity at the Turtle Conservation Centre, Cuc Phuong National Park. Photo by: Pham Van Thong – ATP/IMC

 

Species list for top threatened in Vietnam

Four species listed under top 25+ threatened worldwide

  • Swinhoe’s softshell turtle (Rafetus swinhoei)
  • Zhou’s Box Turtle (Cuora zhoui)
  • Vietnamese Pond Turtle (Mauremys annamensis)
  • Southern River Terrapin (Batagur affinis)

Nine species listed under top 50 (including the four above) threatened worldwide

  • Southern Vietnam Box Turtle (Cuora picturata)
  • Indochinese Box Turtle (Cuora galbinifrons)
  • Bourret’s Box Turtle (Cuora bourreti)
  • Vietnamese Three-striped Box Turtle (Cuora cyclornata)
  • Asian Giant Softshell Turtle (Pelochelys cantorii)

Three other threatened species outside the top 50 assessed as critically endangered

  • Keeled Box Turtle (Cuora mouhotii)
  • Big-headed Turtle (Platysternon megacephalum)
  • Yellow Pond Turtle (Mauremys mutica)

(Source: Turtles in Trouble: The World’s 25+ Most Endangered Tortoises and Freshwater Turtles – 2018)

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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
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Phone:+84 (0) 24 7302 8389
E-mail: info@asianturtleprogram.org
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