Habitat Improvements For The Words Rarest Turtle at Dong Mo Lake: Floating Rafts

In the week commencing 3rd June 2019, ATP staff were busy designing and building a floating raft at Dong Mo Lake in northern Vietnam, something which may help to observe the Swinhoe’s Softshell Turtle (Rafetus swinhoei) residing at this site. This rare and elusive animal is infrequently seen at the lake but a raft for basking may allow the turtle to sit out of the water more often and allow for vital behavioural observations by ATP staff.  

The raft design was partly based from the floats of local fishermen who have observed the turtle. Photo credit: Jack Carney (ATP/IMC).

The raft, made mostly from bamboo and grass harvested on the lake’s islands, will be the first of a series of developments at Dong Mo, which will help staff study the behaviour and ecology of the largest and most critically endangered of all freshwater turtles at one of the its priority sites. It is hoped that this will further highlight Dong Mo as the most significant site for the conservation of this species.

The team cut grass from the lakeside to cover the raft. Photo credit: Jack Carney (ATP/IMC).

 ATP’s Rafetus Field Officer, Nguyen Tai Thang, said this “Developments like this one are small but are important to help us find out more about this rare turtle and help to conserve it”  

This raft was built with the assistance of a group of 3 young students from Hong Kong who were visiting Dong Mo as part of grant for Rafetus conservation from the Ocean Park Conservation Fund (OPCF).  

We would like to thank Danko Group, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Cleveland Metroparks Zoo (CMZ), Ocean Park Conservation Fund (OPCF) and CEPF for supporting this project.

Press release by: Jack Carney & Nguyen Tai Thang (ATP/IMC)

10th June 2019

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