Bourret’s box turtles (Cuora bourreti) is a critically endangered tortoise species endemic to a few provinces of central Vietnam. One of 13 species belonging to the Cuora genus, an intersting group in which most species have the ability to close the bottom of their shell forming a protective box. Unfortunatley it is also one of the most endangeted groups of animals in the world, 11 of its species are considered critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of endnagered species 2011.
On the 8th of December 2011, a report to the Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV) hotline reported two Bourret’s box turtles being kept in an pet store on Tran Hung Dao street, Hue city, Thua Thien Hue province. Provided with this information the provincial Forest Protection Department (FPD) were quick to respond which resulted in the voluntary transfer of the animals from the store too the FPD. Following the guidelines, national Circular No.90-2008-TT-BNN they decided to release the turtles back into the wild.
On the 12th of December 2011 provincial FPD worked with the FPD of A Luoi District and Sao La Natural Reserve to release the lucky turtles back into their natural habitat at Sao La NR. At the same time a Rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) that was voluntarily transferred from a coffee shop in Hue city on the 24th of November 2011 was also released.
Addressing the wildlife trade in Vietnam and elsewhere in Southeast Asia is critical if extinctions are to be prevented. The quick and effective response of the FPD of Thua Thien Hue province was key to this successful outcome and will allow these lucky and important turtles to start a new year back in the wild where they belong.
Press Release by: Ha Thi Nga – ATP
3rd January 2012