Asian Turtle Program
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Site based awareness activities for conservation follow surveys of priority species in Vietnam

With 25 recognised species of tortoise and freshwater turtles, 16 of which are endangered or critically endangered (IUCN 2011) and three endemics Vietnam has always been important for turtle conservation. Its proximity to main consumer markets in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, meant Vietnam bore the initial brunt of the Asian turtle crisis. The continued rapid development and growing population has resulted in sustained pressure on wild turtle populations and while the crisis is now a global issue the conservation of critically important species Asia has not been forgot.

Since 2009 the Asian Turtle Program (ATP) of Cleveland Metroparks Zoo has undertaken the most intensive surveys to date. With focus on priority species including the Vietnamese Pond Turtle (Mauremys annamensis), Swinhoe's Softshell Turtle (Rafetus swinhoei) and the Indochinese Box Turtles (Cuora galbinifrons, Cuora bourreti and Cuora picturata).

Some notable results have included the finding of all three Indochinese Box turtles in the wild as well as the Keeled Box Turtle (Cuora mouhotii). The range for Cuora bourreti has been found from Thua Thien Hue province where the species was found in Sao La Nature Reserve south to Phu Yen Province where Cuora picturata also occurs. In Pu Hu Nature Reserve, Thanh Hoa Province Cuora galbinifrons found in the wild in 2011 has given the ATP hope to develop conservation at the site with a local partner Centre for Natural Resources and Environmental Studies (CRES) who have collaborated on a project for the species. Xuan Nga Nature Reserve in Son La province was also a surprise, during one survey the team found a Platysternon megacephalum, Manouria impress and two Geoemyda spengleri in the wild indicating the reserve has a variety of important species.

The Vietnamese Pond Turtle (Mauremys annamensis) historic range has been more clearly define in lowland coastal wetland areas of central Vietnam from Da Nang south to Phu Yen province but Quang Ngai province remains a focus for conservation of the species.

With ranges and priorities areas now better understood awareness and site based conservation interventions are being implemented to create local support. No easy feat when average per capita income is just $1,168 per year (2010) and sustained demand for wild caught turtles remains high ensuring values of animals has continued to rise in recent years. School program and community meetings are an important part of gaining local support for conservation. Working with the local NGO Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV) the ATP has undertaken awareness activities to promote local conservation of turtles at key site. In February 2012 the first Cuora focused school programs were held around picturata habitat in Phu Yen province with over 1,700 pupils participating. While in March 2011 a special art competition was held for schools around Dong Mo Lake for the Rafetus swinhoei , this coincided with the rescue and treatment of the Hoan Kiem Turtle in Hanoi, thus event can clearly be seen amongst the 3,200 entries received.

Ultimately community support and improved enforcement are going to be crucial if Vietnam's most endangered turtle species are to survive in the wild and will continue to be a key part of work in the country.

2nd June 2012

Press release by Tim McCormack & Hoang Van Ha – Asian Turtle Program

Above: 1 st place winner for the Rafetus art competition, by 10 year old Do Minh Quang of Kim Son primary school

Above: A Cuora picturata found in the wild, Khanh Hoa province, September 2011

Above: Field surveys in the Sao La Nature Reserve, Thua Thien Hue province confirmed Cuora bourreti in the wild


Above: Hunting dogs find a Cuora picturata found in the wild, Khanh Hoa province, September 2011

Above: Another Rafetus art competition entry showed the Hoan Kiem Turtle (possibly inflatable) swimming with children

Above: Students with the field team in Sao La Nature Reserve learn how to take turtle measurements and complete field record forms

Above: A juvenile Manouria impressa in the wild of Xuan Nha Nature Reserve, Son La Province

Above: Artwork for the Rafetus art competition depicts the legend of the turtle in Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi, reclaiming the magical sword

Above: A View into the valley and Ta Lao Village, Xuan Nha Nature Reserve, Son La Province

Above: A juvenile Platysternon megacephlum seen in a local house near Pu Hu Nature Reserve, Thanh Hoa Province

Above: Nguyen Tai Thang of the ATP measures a Geoemyda spengleri in Xuan Nha Nature Reserve


Thank you:


We would like to thank those who have supported our conservation work, the Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund (CEPF), Birdlife International, Turtle Conservation Fund (TCF), The Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund (MBZ), Columbus Zoo, US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Wade Foundation and the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund.


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For more information please contact:

Asian Turtle Program (ATP) of Cleveland Metoparks Zoo,
Office: Room#1302, Thanh Cong Tower, 57 Lang Ha Street,
Ba Dinh, Hanoi, Vietnam

Tel: +84 (0) 4 3514 9750
Fax: +84 (0) 4 3519 0383




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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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