Asian Turtle Program
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No. 1,  14th October 2011


  1. Hanoi.  Is the Hoan Kiem turtle a distinct species or not?

SOURCE: –  DATE: 5th October 2011
Dr. Le Tran Binh, Director of Institute of Biotechnology Vietnam, made a statement that he considers the Hoan Kiem turtle to be a distinct species. However, according to Prof Vu Quang Con, Chairman titles biology professor council, vice chairman of the biology society of Vietnam, there is currently not enough evidence to prove his opinion. Since there are no clear results the subject remains in discussion. Is it Rafetus swinhoei or Rafetus leloii, most international expert agree that the animals are the same species, Rafetus swinhoei.

Link to this web article online


  1. Son Tay. A new signboard raises public attention to protect the Hoan Kiem turtle  

SOURCE: DATE: 3rd October 2011
Two signboards designed to raise public awareness to the conservation needs of the large Swinhoe’s Softshell Turtles  (Rafetus swinhoei)and other wild turtles at Dong Mo Lake, the same species as the legendary Hoan Kiem Turtle. The signboards highlight threats to the species and what can be done for local conservation.

Link to this web article online


3. Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA).  Rafetus Season ends in disappointment
SOURCE: – DATE: 30th September 2011
This year’s fourth season of the Rafetus swinhoei breeding project at Suzhou Zoo in China did not achieve the results everybody had hoped for. Unfortunately none of the 188 eggs laid by the only captive pair of the species were unfertilized.  Also this year saw stray cats and possibly weasels entered the Rafetus enclosure, a potential threat to eggs and hatchlings.

Link to this web article online


4.  A Giang. Snake market on the Vietnam-Cambodia border-
SOURCE: – DATE: 3rd October 2011

Currently it is the peak of the rainy season which often see’s floodinging season in Southeast Asia and the number of snakes and turtles captured in Cambodia increase. At Khanh Binh border (An Phu district), Xuan To border (Tinh Bien district) and Vinh Suong border (Tan Chau district) in An Giang province, many animals are traded illegally to Vietnam. With many different species of snakes and turtles cheaper within this illegal trade while they are relatively abundant at this than at other times time of the year. Ms. Nguyen Kieu Tien, an active trader at Khanh Binh border, said she bought 80 – 150kg of turtles and snakes from Cambodia every day. Current market price at the border gate selling turtles is from 350,000 to 380,000 VND / kg ( approx $17- $19/kg), down 50,000 VND/kg ($2/kg) from the previous month, while King cobra (Naja kaouthia) (local name: rắn hổ đất) 750000-800000 VND / kg ( approx $38-40$/ kg), down 100,000 VND / kg ($4/kg), Bocourt's Water Snake (Enhydris bocourti) (local name: rắn ri voi), 370,000 VND/kg ($ 18/kg) , Puff-faced water snake (Homalopis buccata) (local name: rắn ri cá) cost 250,000 VND / kg ($12/kg),water snakes 120,000 VND / kg ( $ 6/kg)

Link to this web article online


5. Khanh Hoa. Province releases 89 wild animals to the forest
SOURCE: TuoiTreNews -  DATE: 28th September 2011

On 27th September, at Ea-Krongru riverhead forest (about 70km from Nha Trang city, altitude 600m, Khanh Hoa province)  Ninh Hoa FPD and management of Ninh Hoa protection forest  released 89 alive wild animals from 108 individuals that were kept illegally in a local farmhouse and seized on 19th September. Ninh Hoa FPD confirmed that there were 09 Water monitors, (Varanus salvator), 50 turtles in total including 20 Elongated tortoises (Indotestudo elongata) and 6 Giant Asian pond turtles Heosemys grandis both protected under Decree 32/2006 IIB; 08 Small Indian Civets (Viverricula indica), 07 Asiatic Brush-tailed Porcupine (Atherurus macrourus) and 15 Rat snake. Other non-decree 32 species present included 10 Keeled Box turtles (Cuora mouhotii), 01 Impressed tortoise (Manouria impressa) and 01 Box turtle (Cuora bourreti/picturata) that were also release.  Some of these identifications come from photos of the release on the web. The estimated trade value of the animals seized from the trader have a value of 18.53 million.  The trader was fine 15 million VND for the violation.

Link to this web article online: Link 1

Link to this web article online: Link 2


6. Dong Thap. Increasing amounts of snakes, turtles and fish for sale in flooded areas
SOURCE: –DATE: 10th October 2011

Currently it is easy for local people in the Mekong delta area to capture many species of snakes, turtles and fish to sell during the flood season. The article says that they earn as much as 1,000.000 VND (approx $50) for a snake weighing 3.1kg and at least 250,000VND/kg (approx $12) for turtles. By looking at the photos in the article, we were able to identify the turtles as Malayemys subtrijuga, a relatively abundant species in areas of southern Vietnam.

Link to this web article online


7. Hanoi.  Hoan Kiem turtle (Rafetus swinhoei) emerged on the lake surface after being released 2 months ago
SOURCE: Date: 25th September 2011

It was reported that after Hoan Kiem turtle’s release two months ago, it was recently seen emerging in Hoan Kiem lake, with observations of the animal surfacing for up to 1 hour. Those seeing the animal believe its health is still good a t the moment.

Link to this web article online

8. Hanoi.  A large softshell turtle caught recently looking like the Hoan Kiem turtle caused great excitement, but turns out to be a different species, an Asian Soft-shell turtle (Amyda cartilaginea)
SOURCE: –DATE: 10th October 2011

On the morning of Oct 12, 2011, a fisherman caught a giant baba (turtle) weighing 22 kg in the Red River. This attracted many people wanting to see the creature. It was reported that the giant animal looked like the same species as the legendary Hoan Kiem turtle (Rafetus swinhoei). However, Dr. Ha Dinh Duc, professor of University of Science confirmed that the giant was not the same species as the Hoan Kiem turtle, but another protected turtle species listed in Vietnam's Red Book. The animal was in fact a large Asian Soft-shell Turtle (Amyda cartilaginea), more information can be found on the ATP website on this story.

Link to this web article online: link 1

Link to this web article online: link 2


9. Lang Son. Police confiscates bags containing wildlife
SOURCE: DATE: October 14th 2011

Recently, the economic police and police in Cao Loc town seized ownerless bags which contained 20kg of pythons, 27 water monitors and 3 unknown turtles. These animals together were valued to be worth approximately 1.000.000VND. The animals were all transferred to Lang Son FPD to continue the investigation.

Link to this web article online



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