Volleyball matches celebrate the new lunar year in central Vietnam and raise awareness to a highly threatened local turtle

Since 2008 a number Vietnamese Pond Turtles have been seen in the local trade around Binh Son district, such as the animal photographed here. - ATP

The Lunar New Year, known as the Tet holiday, in Vietnam is the longest and most significant national holiday, on average lasting five days.  The Tet holiday signifies the end of the long cool winter and the start of a new year of agricultural production and prosperity.  This year the Asian Turtle Program (ATP) of Indo-Myanmar Conservation (IMC) cooperated with the local Youth Union Department of Binh Khuong commune, Binh Son district in Vietnam’s central Quang Ngai province to organise a volleyball competition during the Tet holiday. Named the ‘Rua Trung Bo Volleyball match’, Vietnamese Pond Turtle (Mauremys annamensis)volleyball match the aim of the event was to provide a fun activity for the locally community that also raises their awareness to conservation needs and protected status of the species.

Endemic to lowland coastal wetland areas in only seven central provinces of Vietnam the critically endangered Vietnamese Pond turtle (Mauremys annamensis) has suffered from intensive hunting and trade despite its full protection under national law Decree 32/2006/ND-CP.  Binh Son districts is one of only a handful of sites left in the wild where the species survives in very small numbers.

Since 2011 various awareness activities have been held, 2015 however was the first year in which volleyball has been the sporting focus.  On the 3rd of March, six local teams competed with over 300 spectators coming to support their village. Thanh Tra village team was victorious in the final against Tay Phuoc village team.

The ATP maintains a full time presence in the province with frequent patrols by staff and local counterpart to prevent illegal turtle trapping and to monitor habitat for the species. Police and the Forest Protection Department (FPD) of Quang Ngai province have also been very quick to respond to incidents of trapping in the area. As the Vietnamese Pond Turtle can be bred in captivity successfully it is hoped that an area of habitat can be secured for the species locally that would provide the option for reintroduction of captive bred animals in the future.

We would like to thank the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), IUCN and Cleveland Metroparks Zoo for supporting this activity. As well as the Youth Union of Binh Khuong Commune for helping organise the event.

Press Release by: Nguyen Thanh Luan – ATP
Date: 9th March 2015

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