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Internet advert leads to the rescue of a Critically Endangered Indochinese Box Turtle
On the 23rd of October 2011 a team from Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV) observed a website advertising a “Golden Turtle” for sale in Da Nang City, central Vietnam. The local name for the critically endangered Chinese Striped Turtle (Cuora trifasciata), a fully protected species in Vietnam. The seller, Tran Quoc Tuan was asking 10,000,000vnd (approximately $500) for the animal, a relatively low price for this highly valuable species used in Chinese traditional medicine. With the information Da Nang Forest Protection Department (FPD) were able to act and on the 28th of October an operation successfully arrested Tuan displaying the turtle to a potential customer.
The turtle turned out to be a juvenile Indochinese Box Turtle (Cuora bourreti), endemic to central Vietnam the species is now critically endangered due to over hunting for the illegal trade. It is however not the same species as the “Golden Turtle”. The lucky turtle was transferred to Cuc Phuong National Parks Turtle Conservation Centre (TCC) where it will hopefully recover and join a breeding program for the species. Hoang Van Thai of the TCC said “the turtle is weak and has obviously suffered in the trade for a while, it will now be kept in quarantine where we hope it will recover well”.
Much of Vietnam’s turtle fauna has suffered in recent decades due to collection for trade, mostly to China. Thankfully the authorities in some provinces are taking the trade seriously and arrests are becoming more common in Vietnam for such wildlife crimes. Mr Quach Phu Son the Chief of the Da Nang FPD legal department confirmed that the trader had been found 3,000,000VND ($150 US) for the offence and that Da Nang will continue to deal harshly with those breaking wildlife protection laws.
Press release by: Tim McCormack – Asian Turtle Program
We would like to thank Da Nang Forest Protection Department for their swift action in the case and the Turtle Conservation Centre (TCC) in Cuc Phuong National Park who continue to care for rescued turtles.
Duong Dinh Vuong from the ATP receives the Cuora bourreti from Da Nang FPD
The lucky Cuora bourreti at the TCC in Cuc Phuong National Park following its rescue