A recent release of turtle was made on the 23rd and 24th of September in and around the Bau Sau wetlands in Cat Tien National Park, Dong Nai Province. A total of 64 turtles were released comprised of two different species native to Cat Tien National Park, 45 Elongated Tortoise (Indotestudo elongata) and 19 Giant Asian Pond Turtles (Heosemys grandis).
This release included individuals confiscated from the illegal wildlife trade as well as hatchlings of both species that had been bred in captivity at the Turtle Conservation Centre (TCC), Cuc Phuong National Park, Ninh Binh Province. This release was especially significant as it was the first release of turtles in Vietnam that has included individuals bred in captivity, and as such represents another step forward for turtle conservation in Vietnam.
It was through co-operation between Cuc Phuong and Cat Tien National Park that it was possible to conduct this release, undertaken by Bui Dang Phong (From the Turtle Conservation Centre, TCC, Cuc Phuong National Park), Nguyen Truong Son (a Ranger from Cuc Phuong National Park) and Cat Tien National Park staff. The release was also covered by the National press, the Tuoi Tre newspaper, which helps raise awareness to the conservation needs of Vietnam’s turtles and highlights those national parks taking positive action to protect rare and endangered turtle species.
Both of these species are currently protected by Vietnamese law under decree 18/48, Indotestudo elongata is protected under group I B which prohibits the exploitation of the species for anything except for propagation purposes whilst Heosemys grandis is protected under group II B with strictly controlled exploitation.