From 25th of February to the 3rd of March 2015, the Asian Turtle Program (ATP) of Indo-Myanmar Conservation (IMC) in collaboration with Kim Son commune Youth Union organized the fifth football event to promote the world rarest turtle, the Hoan Kiem turtle (Rafetus swinhoei). Only four individuals of the species are known in existence in the world, of those, two individual are living in Suzhou zoo, China; two are living in Vietnam with one known as the “Cụ Rùa” (which could imply “Grandfather or Grandmother Turtle’ as the term does not infer gender) in Hanoi’s Hoan Kiem lake and one in Dong Mo lake, Son Tay district, Hanoi, Vietnam.
The turtle which lives in Dong Mo Lake was rescued and released after its escape and capture by locals downstream from its lake home during serious flooding in 2008. The ATP has undertaken awareness and local community activities since 2007 to promote protection of the turtle in the lake. These have included the annually football event, boat races, radio announcements, posters, signboards and art competitions. In addition the last 3 moths have also seen the creation of a no fishing zone to protect fish stock in the lake and prevent fishing activities in the favourite location of turtle. A sand bank has also been constructed to provide the turtle with a suitable nesting location or basking site. A permanent team is maintained at the lake for monitoring and observations and to support community activities.
The annual ‘Turtle Cup’ football match has now been held for 5 consecutive years. 2015 was the first year where private sponsorship for teams was made possible to support some costs of running this event, we would like to thank Mr Chris Banks from Zoos Victoria, Australia for sponsoring his private team (Kim Dai II) and Vietcraft Ltd (Dong Mo Fisherman Team). The football match this year involved 8 local teams come from villages around Dong Mo lake. These are Nghia Son, Kim Dai I, Kim Dai II, Kim Chung, Kim Tan, Nha Tho, Long Ho and the Dong Mo Fisherman team. After having a week of excited competition, the final match was between Kim Tan and Dong Mo Fisherman team. This match was called by local people “Cuộc Chiến của thần Núi-Sơn Tinh và thần Nước-Thủy Tinh”*, ‘The battle between the of Mountain God-Son Tinh and Water God-Thuy Tinh’*. A tough first half left the team drawing 0:0, but as game play exploded in the second half with some players tiring the final result was 2:1 to the victorious Son Tinh – God of mountain team (Kim Tan Village) emerging as new champions of 2015. Over 600 spectators watch the final match in this exciting event, which has grown in popularity each year.
*: This relates to one legend of Vietnam about the war between two God: Son Tinh- Mountain God and Thuy Tinh- Water God to marry the princess Mi Nuong of Hung XVIII King. Son Tinh has defeated the Thuy Tinh to get married with Mi Nuong. It made Thuy Tinh so angry, every year Thuy Tinh raise the water through rain, and storm to fight Son Tinh to steel Mi Nuong.
We would like to thank all of the support for our work and the Rafetus swinhoei Project from Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), IUCN and Cleveland Metroparks Zoo (CMZ), thank also for team sponsorship from Mr Chris Banks from Zoos Vitoria, Australia and from Vietcraft Ltd as well as local partners and agencies, and the Youth Union of Kim Son commune who helped with the organisation of this successful event.
Date: 12th March 2015
Press released by: Pham Van Thong & Timothy McCormack – ATP