The Mauremys annamensis Project (MAP)
The Vietnamese Pond Turtle (Mauremys annamensis) is a species of particular conservation concern, a highly localised endemic found only in densely populated coastal lowlands of a few provinces of central Vietnam from Da Nang south to Phu Yen. The wild ecology and distribution of the species was first described in 1939, but with no field records for the species made again until 2007 when a Mauremys annamensis was caught in the wild in Quang Nam province by the ATP. Many gaps remain in knowledge on the species (Bourret, 1941). Although fully protected under Vietnam’s principal wildlife protection law, Decree 32, in 2006 the species is still heavily hunted for sale into the wildlife trade. At present this species is not believed to occur in any protected areas, this furthers increases the urgency for which habitat must be identified if successful conservation activities are to be focused.
Distribution: Believed distributed from Da Nang to Phu Yen and possibly Gia Lai, Kom Tum province
Habitat: Suitable lowland wetland habitat, ponds and wetlands in association with rivers
Threats: Major causes of their decline are habitat loss, and illegal hunting and trade
Activities to date
During 2001 and 2004 initial surveys were conducted. In 2006 intensive surveys were undertaken throughout Quang Nam province, where historical records for the species exist. Surveys focused on observations and descriptions of Mauremys annamensis in locate trade to identify possible wild locations. Nine Mauremys annamensis were seen in the province and information indicated that animals were still being caught in two districts, Dien Ban and Duy Xuyen. In November 2006 further survey in these locations using aquatic traps resulted in the first wild capture of a Mauremys annamensis in over 67 years, confirming the species remains in the wild.
Following this success the ATP initiated the Mauremys annamensis Project (MAP) in 2007. The objective of MAP was to survey additional central provinces to identify additional wetland habitat, and conduct awareness and training activities focused on the species.
During 2008, more sites were confirmed in Quang Ngai province where two Mauremys annamensis were being kept in the local community surrounding a wetland complex. Community meetings in this area were held in villages surrounding priority habitat. Education programs are already being undertaken in local schools by our local partner, Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV).
In January 2009, Quang Ngai FPD successfully confiscated 19 turtle included six individuals of Mauremys annamensis. These animals were transferred to the Turtle Conservation Center (TCC) of Cuc Phuong National Park which has been successful in breeding this species from 18 founder animals. At present the TCC has almost 200 Vietnamese Pond Turtles. They are waiting for releasing back to the wild at their historical distribution.