On 28th of March 2010 the Asian Turtle Program (ATP) of Cleveland Metroparks Zoo organized the first Turtle Football Cup in Nghia Son village of Son Tay district, Hanoi. The matches involving teams from four villages were organized to promote awareness and conservation of the critically endangered Swinhoe’s Softshell Turtle (Rafetus swinhoei), a species known to occur in Dong Mo Lake but which is now recognized as one of the worlds most endangered species. At present only four animals are known to existence globally.
Swinhoe’s soft-shell, also known as the Hoan Kiem turtle in Vietnam, is important to Vietnamese culture and history due to a 15th century legend about a mystical turtle living in a Hanoi lake. Presentations were made between the matches to highlight the need for community support for protection of the Dong Mo turtle and the lake it lives in for future generations.
Following some closely played matches, one of which went to penalties, the Youth Union team of Ngia Son II village emerged as champions of the day. With the success of the first Turtle Football Cup, Mr. Pham Van Thong, the Rafetus project coordinator intends to expand the games in 2011 to include additional communities. The first Turtle Football Cup for Rafetus Swinhoei was supported by the Columbus Zoo, Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), as well as the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo (CMZ).
We would like to thank all those who have supported our work and the Rafetus swinhoei Project. The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), Birdlife International, Columbus Zoo and the Turtle Conservation Fund (TCF). As well as local partners and agencies, Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV), the Forest Protection Department (FPD) and the People’s Committee of Vietnam.