On the 17th of October 2012, police and local Forest Protection Department (FPD) officers from Huong Son district (Ha Tinh province, Vietnam) pulled over a man who was transporting 50kg of turtles on his motorbike, driving on highway 8A through Son Bang commune heading for Vinh city (Nghe An province). The turtles were found wrapped with adhesive tape in a bag. The shipment included Elongated tortoises (Indotestudo elongata), Impressed tortoises (Manouria impressa), Asian Leaf turtles (Cyclemys oldhamii) as well as one critically endangered Indochinese Box turtle (Cuora galbinifrons) , one critically endangered Bourret’s box turtle (Cuora bourreti) and two endangered Keeled box turtles (Cuora mouhotii) . The case came to the attention of Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV) and to the staff of the Turtle Conservation Centre (TCC) in Cuc Phuong National Park, Ninh Binh province, when news of the confiscation appeared online on the 18th of October.
TCC staff responded quickly and coordinated with Ha Tinh FPD who were still holding the confiscated turtles. On the 20th of October Mr Bui Dang Phong and Mr Hoang Van Thai took the six hour trip to Ha Tinh province to receive one rare Cuora galbinifrons and two Cuora mouhotii from the FPD there. Unfortunately they arrived too late for the Cuora bourreti which had died. Back at the TCC, Mr. Thai examined the animals and while both Cuora mouhotii were healthy and strong, the Cuora galbinifrons had a badly injured leg, most likely from a snare trap.
Apart from rescuing the animals the trip to Ha Tinh, sponsored by ENV, was also a good opportunity for the TCC to strengthen its relationship with FPD officers as many turtles are shipped through Ha Tinh. The TCC is hoping to receive more endangered and critically endangered species from the province in the future.
We would like to thank ENV for making this rescue operation possible. Many thanks also go to the Ha Tinh FPD for transferring the animals to the TCC. The TCC would also like to thank the Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA) and the Intrepid Foundation for supporting the centre and its conservation projects in 2012.
Press release by Nguyen Thi Xuan Huong – Asian Turtle Program
24th October 2012