From 25th to 27th of May 2020, a team of the Turtle Conservation Centre (TCC) of Cuc Phuong National Park and the Asian Turtle Program (ATP) of Indo-Myanmar Conservation (IMC) went on a special mission to take 28 Big-headed Turtles (Platysternon megacephalum) back home to a protected area in northern Vietnam.
These rare turtles are an Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) species and part of the Zoological Society of London’s (ZSL) EDGE of Existence programme with whom ATP/IMC are collaborating with.
The 28 turtles had been rescued from the illegal wildlife trade and rehabilitated at the TCC for a period while they recovered and gained enough strength for their journey back to the wild. Once again, we tried to follow the IUCN’s wild animal release guidelines as best as possible; therefore we collected blood, faecal and saliva samples to test for disease-causing pathogens and parasites and investigate the genetics of each individual.
We would like to thank all the hard-working staff who have provided great care to the animals in captivity and who went on this physically demanding release trip. We are also grateful to Fondation Segré Conservation Fund and the EDGE of Existence programme for their support to this project, our other project partners, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), Paignton Zoo, Nordens Ark, the Centre for Natural Resources and Environmental Studies (CRES), and all of our numerous partners who have contributed along the way.