coura hybrid
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Rare sighting of a hybrid turtle in central Vietnam

On a recent survey trip in Song Hinh District, Phu Yen Province, Vietnam, between the 13th and 25th of August 2014, a team from the Asian Turtle Program (ATP) and an international volunteer from the University of San Jose University, California, USA observed a hybrid ‘Cuora serrata’ in the possession of a local trader. The animal is a hybrid between the critically endangered and endemic Southern Vietnamese Box Turtle (Cuora picturata) and the southern sub-species of the endangered Keeled Box Turtle (Cuora mouhotii obsti).  The specimen was reportedly purchased for 2 million VND ($93.50) by a local trader who claimed the animal was caught in nearby mountains and who intends to sell the turtle for a profit in the future. This is the first record of a hybrid of Cuora picturata and Cuora mouhotii obsti in Central Vietnam.

coura hybrid

Picture above: Rare to see, this turtle, also known as a Cuora serrata, is a hybrid between a Cuora picturata and a Cuora mouhotii obsti.  Apparently wild caught locally in Phu Yen province.  Photo by: Nguyen Thanh Luan – ATP


During the survey a total of 72 interviews were conducted. 51 interviews in Song Hinh district for the critically endangered endemic Vietnamese Pond Turtle (Mauremys annamensis) and 21 interviews in Dong Hoa district in Phu Yen Province with a focus around the Deo Ca Special Use Forest which has been identified as a priority area for the highly localized endemics C.picturata. In all 27 turtle specimens were observed (including live, dead intact and carapace shell specimens) of 9 species: Southern Vietnamese’s box turtle (Cuora picturata); Bourret’s box turtle (Cuora bourreti) – the C.bourreti did not originate from the local area; Southern Keeled box turtle (Cuora mouhotii obsti); Elongated Tortoise (Indotestudo elongata); Four-eyed turtle (Sacalia quadriocellata); Eastern Black-bridged Leaf turtle (Cyclemys pulchristriata); Southeast Asian Leaf turtle (Cyclemys oldhamii); Giant Asian Pond turtle (Heosemys grandis) and Chinese softshell turtle (Pelodiscus sinensis).
The project is part of a joint activity between the ATP and Hanoi’s Centre for Natural Resources and Environmental Studies (CRES) focused on tortoise and freshwater turtle conservation in central Vietnam.

Date: 27th August 2014
Press release by:

Billy Tu – San Jose State University, California, USA
Nguyen Thanh Luan – Asian Turtle Program (ATP) of Indo-Myanmar Conservation (IMC)
Timothy McCormack - Asian Turtle Program (ATP) of Indo-Myanmar Conservation (IMC)
Le Duc Minh – Centre for Resources and Environmental Studies (CRES) - Hanoi

Download the English version here

Download the Vietnamese version here

sacalia quadriocelata

Picture above: Other species that have been locally caught, and significant for the area include the Four –eyed Turtle (Sacalia quadriocellata) for wich the occurance in Phu Yen province is a significant range extension of the species. Photo by: Nguyen Thanh Luan - ATP

Indotestudo elongata

Picture above: An Elongated Tortoise (Indotestudo elongata) tied to a piece of string through a hole in the rear of its shell and kept as a pet at an Ede ethnic minority household in Song Hinh District, Phu Yen province  - Photo by: Nguyen Thanh Luan - ATP


We would like to thank the Turtle Conservation Fund (TCF), Rotterdam Zoo and Cleveland Metroparks Zoo for supporting the survey. We would also like to thank the Forest Protection Department (FPD) for their support of the surveys and turtle conservation in the province.


tcfrotterdam zoo

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For more information please contact:

Asian Turtle Program (ATP) of Indo-Myanmar Conservation,
Room #1806, CT1, Bac Ha C14 Building, To Huu street, Nam Tu Liem district, Hanoi, Vietnam

Tel: +84 (0) 24 73028389




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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) 24 7302 8389

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