Critical confiscation of highly endangered tortoises need help in Vietnam

Most of the turtles are adults and will have been important breeding individuals in their wild populations, it’s a real shame to see so many animals in the trade. Photo credit: ATP

One of the largest confiscations of highly threatened box turtles seen in Vietnam

A large confiscation of tortoise and freshwater turtles has been made on the 21st of September 2015 in Hanoi, Vietnam, with 237 animals. Comprising approximately 100 individuals of two Indochinese Box Turtle species (Cuora galbinifrons, Cuora bourreti), over 50 Keeled Box Turtles (Cuora mouhotii) and over 30 Big-headed Turtles (Platysternon megacephalum) and a small number of Leaf Turtles (Cyclemys sp.). The Asian Turtle Program (ATP) of Indo-Myanmar Conservation (IMC) was first notified of the case on Friday the 25th of September and immediately went down to view the confiscation at Soc Son Rescue Centre in Hanoi. The animals were being maintained in temporary enclosures with limited space available with all the Indochinese Box Turtles in an aviary.

The ATP and Turtle Conservation Centre (TCC) of Cuc Phuong National Park was able to work with Soc Son Rescue Centre staff and the NGO, Four Paws Vietnam who have a bear rescue centre in Soc Son to deal with the immediate enclosure and diet improvements to try and stabilise the animals, many of which were dehydrated and heat stressed. Following a number of days of intensive work at Soc Son Rescue Centre it was agreed to transfer some of the animals to the TCC where quarantine facilities and trained staff are better equipped to handle with a large number of these sensitive species. On the 30th of September 2015, 20 Cuora galbinifrons, 10 Cuora bourreti, 30 Cuora mouhotii, 23 Platysternon megacephalum, 4 Cuora amboinensis, 10 Cyclemys oldhamii, 2 Mauremys reevsesii, 1 Trachemys scripta elegans and 1 Chelydra serpentine were transferred to the TCC.

Staff from the ATP and a number of volunteers have been working hard with the TCC team since to get the quarantine running a full capacity, most of the animals are on course of antibiotics and many of the box turtles are requiring tube feeding due to their poor health. We also currently lack adequate enclosure space for the Big-headed turtles, the centre now has over 40 of this species in captivity which must be maintained separately due to their aggressive nature and also require cool clean water.

As such the ATP and TCC are seeking emergency support to maintain the intensive treatments that will require additional ATP staff and volunteers to be involved over the next few months. We also need to look at constructing long term secure enclosures for the animals once they move out of quarantine. This will require two terrestrial enclosures for the box turtle and a third secure enclosure with ponds for the Big-headed turtles.

We would also like to offer some level of support to Soc Son Rescue Centre for the animals they still have remaining. Unfortunately the centre is very hot and not suitable for long term keeping of these sensitive box turtles. We hope to encourage them to transfer additional animals to the TCC.

If you are able to offer support please contact us at: or make a payment through PayPal using the same Email address

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We would like to thank all those who have offered support, volunteered to help or can contribute financial or equipment resources: the World Land Trust, Bristol Zoo, Zoological Society of London (ZSL), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Cleveland Metroparks Zoo (CMZ) and Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA). We would also like to thank Soc Son Rescue Centre, Hanoi and the Turtle Conservation Centre (TCC) in Cuc Phuong National Park for their quick response in coordinating the placement of animals. Importantly we would also like to thank Four Paws Vietnam keepers and staff of Soc Son who have worked tirelessly to look after the animals.

Call for Help – ATP
Date: 4th October 2015
Press Release by: Timothy McCormack – ATP, Hao Do Thanh – TCC & Nguyen Thu Thuy – ATP

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