New suitable habitat of Vietnamese Pond Turtle in Phu Yen province

From the 28th to the 30th of November 2018, a team conducted a short survey of swamp habitat in Phu Yen province, central Vietnam. The Swamp is exciting as its relatively large, at 80 hectares, still has good trees and a variety of wildlife including a population of Rhesus Macaque (Macaca mulatta) dozens of bird species, some of which are endangered.

With regards to turtles, the newly identified swamp is considered as one of the only remaining suitable habitats for Vietnamese Pond Turtles (Mauremys annamensis). This critically endangered, localised endemic species is restricted to lowland wetlands in central Vietnam. Previous intensive surveys by the Asian Turtle Program (ATP) of Indo Myanmar Conservation (IMC) show that the species only exists in  some fragmented wetland areas and possibly in river sections but these restricted populations continue to be under intensive hunting pressure. From descriptions during the short trip is sounds like the Vietnamese Pond Turtles were still being caught at the site and traded in the local markets in 2016 and 2017.

Despite the fact that rice cultivation has resulted in the loss of much of the historic wetland this site still give us hope, it is also located very close to an area of the Deo Ca Special Use Forest, a suitable habitat of the critically endangered and endemic Southern Vietnam Box Turtle (Cuora picturata), the protection of both species and other wildlife could be linked to conservation efforts in this area.

We intend to work with the local and national government to bring more attention to this site in the near future.

We would like to send our sincere thanks to the authorities of Phu Yen province, especially the Department of Natural Resources and Environment for creating favorable conditions for the survey. We would like to thank the Rainforest Trust for their support of this activity.

Press release: Tim McCormack – ATP/IMC

Date: 12th December 2018

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