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New Law Protects Priority Turtles In Vietnam

On the 12th of November 2013 a new law was passed in Vietnam, Decree 160/2013/ND-CP offers greater protection to a range of wildlife of different taxa in Vietnam. Importantly for turtles 10 species are now listed as fully protected. Of these seven are already protected under the existing wildlife protection law Decree 32/2006/ND-CP and marine protection law Decree 59/2005/ND-CP. The three significant additions are the critically endangered Indochinese Box Turtle (Cuora galbinifrons) and Swinhoe ' s Softshell Turtle (Rafetus swinhoei) as well as the endangered Cantor's Softshell Turtle (Pelochelys cantorii) which are all given national protection for the first time. Swinhoe's Softshell Turtle is arguably the most endangered turtle in the world with only four animals known in existence, protection of this species is of the utmost importance.

With over a decade of experience working in Vietnam the Asian Turtle Program (ATP) and Turtle Conservation Centre (TCC) of Cuc Phuong National Park were both requested to make recommendations in support of the new Decree produced by the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment (MoNRE). This shows results from our joint long term tortoise and freshwater turtle conservation in Vietnam are increasingly being recognised and utilised by our government partners.

Through the combined protection offered by Decree 160, Decree 32 and Decree 59 a total of 15 of Vietnam's 30 turtle species of turtle are now offered some protected. However the challenge remains in enforcing the laws, they provide the necessary tools for enforcement agencies to work but identification of species in the trade and trade routes still pose significant challenges. The ATP will continue to work with national wildlife protection agencies in Vietnam and other NGO's to try and address the issues of illegal trade and enforcement in Vietnam.


Written by: Timothy McCormack & Nguyen Thu Thuy - ATP

Date: 2nd December 2013

Download a description of law Decree 160

Download this press release here

Three additional species are now fully protected in Vietnam

Above: Swinhoe's Softshell Turtle (Rafetus swinhoei)

Above: Cantor's Softshell Turtle (Pelochelys cantorii)

Above: Indochinese Box Turtle (Cuora galbinifrons)

Table below shows turtle species native to Vietnam and their protection status

CR - Critically Endangered; EN – Endangered; VU – Vulnerable; NE - Not evaluated; lc - Least Concern


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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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