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No. 123, 21st March 2014

1. Hanoi, Vietnam: 50-year-old turtle weighing nearly 40kg caught in Hanoi

DATE: 17th March 2014

On the 17th of March, when walking around Vinh Hung Lake (Hoang Mai province), Mr. Ly Thanh Hai found a turtle (Asiatic softshell turtle – Amyda cartilaginea) weighing nearly 40kg lying on some water vegetation. Struggling for 30 minutes to catch the animal Hai and three other men brought the heavy animal ashore. The news about Mr. Hai's big catch spread quickly and soon after wildlife traders were reported to have offered 50 million Vietnamese dong ($2,374) for the rare catch. However, Hai declined all offers concerned that the animal would be sold to a restaurant. He publicly said that he would like to bring the turtle to the Hoan Kiem Lake for it to make friends with the famous softshell turtle of Hoan Kiem (Swinhoe's softshell turtle - Rafetus swinhoei) called ‘Cu Rua' by the vietnamese.

ATP Note: more information is available in the ATP update on this story under this link

Link to this web article online (Vietnamese)


Hanoi, Vietnam: Experts advise against release of Asiatic softshell turtle in the Hoan Kiem Lake

DATE: 19th March 2014

Many locals agree with Mr Hai and proposed to release the giant turtle (to the Hoan Kiem Lake. However,experts disagree with the plan due to potential threats to the lake's famous Hoan Kiem turtle. Zoologists and conservation experts agree that the 40kg Amyda cartilaginea, native to southern Vietnam, should not be released to the lake as the species does not belong in the north and is a different species to the Rafetus swinhoei present in Hoan Kiem Lake.

ATP Note: The giant turtle (Asiatic softshell turtle – Amyda cartilaginea) is a rare species and listed in Vietnam's Red Book (2007) and by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (2013) as vulnerable. The species inhabits a variety of freshwater habitats from ponds and lakes to rivers and canals in central and southern provinces of Vietnam and other southern countries of southest Asia. Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi is not within the species' natural range. Releasing the species with one of only four Rafetus swinhoei known globally would present unnecessary risk to the Rafetus swinhoei. Reccomendations were made to either release the turtle back to suitable habitat in Southern Vietnam or transfer the animalto the Turtle Conservation Center (TCC) in Cuc Phuong National Park where two animals of the same species are currently held and taken care of.

Link 1 to this web article online (Vietnamese)

Link 2 to this web article online (Vietnamese)

© Pham Van Thong/ATP

2. Hanoi, Vietnam: Rafetus swinhoei spotted below the Turtle Tower in Hoan Kiem Lake

DATE: 16th March 2014

Professor Ha Dinh Duc, confirmed that Hanoi's Hoan Kiem turtle (Swinhoe's softshell turtle - Rafetus swinhoei) , also called ‘Cu Rua' by the Vietnamese, was spotted basking near the Turtle Tower in Hoan Kiem Lake on the 16th of March. He paddled out to the island to check on the turtles health. He reported to have found her healthy and her carapace was without injuries and smooth.

Link to this web article online (Vietnamese)


3. Hanoi, Vietnam: Dead turtle found floating on Hanoi's Hoan Kiem Lake

DATE: 16th March 2014

In the morning of the 15th March, foreign and domestic visitors walking around the Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi witnessed a dead Elongated tortoise (Indotestudo elongata) floating in the lake.

ATP NOTE: The Elongated tortoise usually occurs in the tropical South of Vietnam. Tortoises are land-dwelling animals and not strong swimmers lacking the webbed feet used by aquatic turtles. The Elongated Tortoise is the most common tortoise to be shipped to the Chinese food markets from Vietnam and is also popular in the pet trade. Most likely this animal was released in the lake by its former owner. This is also not the first time that land-dwelling turtle species have been released to the lake. In 2005, a Keeled box turtle (Cuora mouthotii) was released in the Hoan Kiem Lake as a religious sacrifice but was lucky enough to be rescued.

Link to this web article online (Vietnamese)


4. Ninh Thuan province, Vietnam: Three rare sea turtles released

DATE: 13th March 2014

Nui Chua National Park in Ninh Thuan Province has rescued and released three sea turtles listed in Vietnam's Red Book (two Green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas); one unidentified) back to the sea. All three turtles were caught in the nets of local fishermen and estimated to be about 10 years old, with the two green sea turtles weighing 12kg and 15kg and the other animal weighing 5kg. Fortunately, the local fishermen voluntarily transferred these turtles to the National Park to release them.

Link to this web article online (Vietnamese)

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