The Asian Turtle Program (ATP) was established in 1998 and incorporated into the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo/Cleveland Zoological Society’s Asia regional program in 2003.
Since the ATP originated with the development of the Turtle Conservation Centre (TCC) at Cuc Phuong National Park together with our local partner NGO, Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV), we have been working on the conservation of tortoises and freshwater turtles (TFT) in southeast Asia. Due to ATP’s origins in Vietnam, much of the work in the previous 20 years has been focused in Vietnam, where, of the 26 confirmed species here, 6 are listed as Vulnerable, 9 are Endangered and 7 are Critically Endangered, according to IUCN’s Red List (2019).
ATP has concentrated its efforts on Vietnam’s priority species including those which are critically endangered or endemic, such as the endemic Vietnamese Pond Turtle (Mauremys annamensis), the Box Turtles of central Vietnam: Cuora bourreti and Cuora picturata, and the legendary Hoan Kiem Turtle (Rafetus swinhoei), also known as Swinhoe’s Softshell Turtle, in northern Vietnam, largely recognised as the most endangered turtle species in the world.
With the aim of establishing a safe and sustainable future for Asian turtles, and ensuring that no further turtle species become extinct in the region, we implement strategic interventions that directly contribute to the conservation of Asian turtles, helping to ensure efficient use of limited resources, as well as developing capacity, strengthening leadership, and ultimately effecting positive attitudinal and behavioural change within society.
As well as conducting important conservation-focused research in a variety of regions and habitats, ATP believes in building up expertise and experience in both the rangers and wildlife officers who work on the ground for turtle conservation, and the students and young conservationists who will lead turtle conservation efforts in Vietnam in the future. We organise training events for forest rangers from provinces all over Vietnam and run training courses which give students the skills and knowledge to carry out conservation and research activities.
ATP is also dedicated to raising awareness in local communities and schools, as well as wider audiences, of the importance of Vietnam’s turtles, the threats facing them and the ways in which we can all help.
In March 2015, ATP was incorporated into Indo-Myanmar Conservation (IMC), a not-for-profit corporation established as an NGO under Companies House and receiving its registered Charity Commission number 1126123 in 2008 in London, United Kingdom and its Certificated of Registration No. 299/CNV-HD granted by Ministry of Foreign Affair of Vietnam in 2015.
IMC was established to meet the need in the Indo-Myanmar Region, including Vietnam, Cambodia. Lao PDR, Thailand, and Myanmar, for a conservation organization with species-focused research and a community-focused approach to achieving successful conservation. The incorporation of the ATP into IMC will support and strengthen the two decades of practical tortoise and freshwater turtle conservation experience including captive management, field research and awareness and community engagement. Beside a focus of conservation work on TFT, the skills available within IMC will allow greater scope for work in additional fields for example additional taxa, alternative livelihoods in the near future.