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Fifth football match organized to support conservation of the worlds rarest turtle

From 25th of February to the 3rd  of March 2015, the Asian Turtle Program (ATP) of Indo-Myanmar Conservation (IMC) in collaboration with Kim Son commune Youth Union organized the fifth football event to promote the world rarest turtle, the Hoan Kiem turtle (Rafetus swinhoei).  Only four individuals of the species are known in existence in the world, of those, two individual are living in Suzhou zoo, China; two are living in Vietnam with one known as the "Cụ Rùa" (which could imply “Grandfather or Grandmother Turtle’ as the term does not infer gender) in Hanoi’s Hoan Kiem lake and one in Dong Mo lake, Son Tay district, Hanoi, Vietnam.

The turtle which lives in Dong Mo Lake was rescued and released after its escape and capture by locals downstream from its lake home during serious flooding in 2008.  The ATP has undertaken awareness and local community activities since 2007 to promote protection of the turtle in the lake.  These have included the annually football event, boat races, radio announcements, posters, signboards and art competitions.  In addition the last 3 moths have also seen the creation of a no fishing zone to protect fish stock in the lake and prevent fishing activities in the favourite location of turtle.  A sand bank has also been constructed to provide the turtle with a suitable nesting location or basking site. A permanent team is maintained at the lake for monitoring and observations and to support community activities.

Dong Mo football 2015

Above: The players competed hard to become the new turtle cup champion. Photo by: Nguyen Tai Thang - ATP

Dong Mo football 2015

Dong Mo football cup

Above: Over 600 spectators came to support their teams. Photo by: Nguyen Tai Thang - ATP

winner of Dong Mo football cup 2015

Above: The victors receive their prizes. Photo by: Pham Van Thong - ATP

Dong Mo football cup
Above: The players competed hard to become the new turtle cup champion. Photo by: Nguyen Tai Thang - ATP

Rafetus swinhoei in Dong Mo

Above: "Con Giai" – The Rafetus swinhoei which was rescued and released to Dong Mo lake in 2008 after escaping and being caught. Photo by: Tim McCormack  - ATP

The annual ‘Turtle Cup’ football match has now been held for 5 consecutive years. 2015 was the first year where private sponsorship for teams was made possible to support some costs of running this event, we would like to thank Mr Chris Banks from Zoos Victoria, Australia for sponsoring his private team (Kim Dai II) and Vietcraft Ltd (Dong Mo Fisherman Team). The football match this year involved 8 local teams come from villages around Dong Mo lake.  These are Nghia Son, Kim Dai I, Kim Dai II, Kim Chung, Kim Tan, Nha Tho, Long Ho and the Dong Mo Fisherman team. After having a week of excited competition, the final match was between Kim Tan village and Dong Mo Fisherman team.  This match was called by local people "Cuộc Chiến của thần Núi-Sơn Tinh và thần Nước-Thủy Tinh"*, ‘The battle between the of Mountain God-Son Tinh and Water God-Thuy Tinh’*.  A tough first half left the team drawing 0:0, but as game play exploded in the second half with some players tiring the final result was 2:1 to the victorious Son Tinh - God of mountain team (Kim Tan Village) emerging as new champions of 2015.  Over 600 spectators watch the final match in this exciting event, which has grown in popularity each year.

thought on Dong Mo football

*: This relates to one legend of Vietnam about the war between two God: Son Tinh- Mountain God and Thuy Tinh- Water God to marry the princess Mi Nuong of Hung XVIII King. Son Tinh has defeated the Thuy Tinh to get married with Mi Nuong. It made Thuy Tinh so angry, every year Thuy Tinh raise the water through rain, and storm to fight Son Tinh to steel Mi Nuong. 

Date: 12th March 2015
Press released by: Pham Van Thong  & Timothy McCormack  - ATP

Download this press release PDF here: English pdf

Download this press release PDF here: Vietnamese pdf


Thank you:


We would like to thank all of the support for our work and the Rafetus swinhoei Project from Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), IUCN and Cleveland Metroparks Zoo (CMZ), thank also for team sponsorship from Mr Chris Banks from Zoos Vitoria, Australia and from Vietcraft Ltd as well as local partners and agencies, and the Youth Union of Kim Son commune who helped with the organisation of this successful event.


cepf iucn CMZ


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For more information please contact:

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

Tel: +84 (0) 4 3514 7875




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
PO Box 46
Phone:+84 (0) 24 7302 8389

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