Asian Turtle Program
  Select your language vietnamese english  



No. 219, 29th January 2016

1. Vietnam mourns the death of its legendary anti-imperialist turtle
SOURCE: – DATE: 23rd January 2016

For the Vietnamese, there was much to love about the Hoan Kiem turtle - affectionately referred to as 'Cu Rua' - perhaps the nation’s most admired animal. Sadly, Cu Rua’s 440-pound body was found floating lifeless on the 19th of January 2016 in a Hanoi lake. The death of the turtle, revered as the incarnation of a mythical creature from the 15th-century and the symbol of Hoan Kiem lake as well as the capital of Hanoi has led to outpourings of grief across the country.

The death brings its species, the Yangtze giant softshell (Rafetus swinhoei), down to just three living turtles: two in a Chinese zoo and one less venerated specimen elsewhere in Hanoi. The death of Cu Rua is a loss for animal conservationists and the superstitious alike. The turtle was “revered as an almost god-like animal,” says Tim McCormack with the Asian Turtle Program (ATP). And the species, he says, is in “serious trouble.”

Due to the Hoan Kiem turtle’s cultural, historic and social significances, there have been suggestions that another representative of Hoan Kiem turtle, currently inhabiting Dong Mo lake be moved to Hoan Kiem lake. When considering moving any large animal from the wild into such a small urbanized area such as Hoan Kiem lake, many aspects should be concerned including: environmental suitability, stress, and threats, etc. ATP recommended that timely measures to find and identify individuals of the species be taken as well as a breeding programme be established so that the ‘legend’ lives on for future generations.

Also, some scientists highlighted the necessity that tissue and potentially sperm samples (in case the turtle is a male) be immediately collected and stored to potentially revitalize the Hoan Kiem Turtle in the future.

In terms of plan for preserving the turtle body, two major options have been proposed: wet preservation in ethanol and dry preservation which requires highly technical skills, and special storage conditions. 

Link 1 to this web article online (English)

Link 2 to this web article online (Vietnamese)

Link 3 to this web article online (Vietnamese)

Link 4 to this web article online (Vietnamese)

Hoan Kiem turtle

© Hoang Long

Hoan Kiem turtle

© Nguyen Huy Kham

Dong Mo turtle


800 rescued tortoises died


2. Jharkhand, India: 800 rescued tortoises released in Massanjore dam die
SOURCE: – DATE: 15th January 2016

More than 800 fresh water tortoises that were rescued and released in the Massanjore dam (Dumka, Jharkhand, India) have died, an official said on Thursday (the 14th of January 2015).

A team of forest officials have been sent to the dam after local residents reported that some of the tortoises have started dying, said Abhishekh Kumar, Dumka divisional forest officer.

Earlier, on the 11th of January 2016, the Dumka police seized more than 4,000 tortoises from a West Bengal-bound truck and handed them over to the forest department. The recovered tortoises were released in the dam to make them adaptable to the local conditions, he said.  He added: “The cause of the deaths will be known after post-mortems are conducted. The tortoises may have died due to transport stress.” ATP NOTE: from the video it appears the animals were Indian Flapshell Turtles (Lissemys punctata)

Link 1 to this web article online (English)

Link 1 to this web article online (English)

3. China: Shell shock: Pet owners panic after their beloved turtles are frozen by sub-zero temperatures
SOURCE: – DATE: 26th January 2016

Turtle owners across China have been posting pictures online of their beloved pets frozen in ice and rising concern for their safety. Temperatures have dropped to well below zero across the country recently, in some cases as low as -47 oC. The water the turtles are being kept in is freezing around them making them trapped, and people have been asking for advice on social media on how to thaw them out. Some owners have said they managed to save their turtles from dying by putting them in warm water until they thawed out.  ATP NOTE: unfortunately the keeping of threatened tortoise and freshwater turtles as pets in Asia, including China appears to be on the increase. Such problems in maintaining animals in less than ideal captive situations will likely lead to the death of many.

Link 1 to this web article online (English)

Link 2 to this web article online (Vietnamese)

frozen turtles in China


frozen turtles in China


hawkbill sea turtle

© N. Wu

4. The USA: Old Nuclear Fallout Proves Useful for Sea Turtle Clues
SOURCE: – DATE: 25th January 2016

Scientists in Hawaii attempts to understand and protect the world’s seven marine turtle species by applying an unlikely environmental marker: nuclear fallout.

As described in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the researchers used bomb radiocarbon, which winds up in the turtles’ shells through their diet, to estimate the birth dates, growth rates and age of reproductive maturity of critically endangered hawksbill sea turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata). The studies could be replicated across the Pacific and other ocean basins to obtain information about the long-term ecology of individual sea turtles, populations and their ecosystem.

Researchers believe the new method could easily be applied to other marine turtle populations around the world.

Link to this web article online (English)

5. The UK: RSPCA gets justice over turtle mistreatment, man fined $4000
SOURCE: - DATE: 26th January 2016

A VISION-impaired man has been banned for having animals for life after three turtles in his care were so sick they had to be put down. Robert Johnson was fined $4000 for breaching his duty of care to an animal after RSPCA and Department of Environment and Heritage Protection officers went to his Southport home (Merseyside, the UK) in May, 2014 after complaints about lace monitors.

A RSPCA officer said that “While the lizards were fine the turtle tank was so “dirty, green and fouled” that the turtles had severe infections, parasites, were dehydrated, had bone deficiency and their shells were weak, misshapen and flaky. They were so bad they couldn’t be rehabilitated and had to be put down.”

Link to this web article online (English)

man break duty of care

© Gold Coast Bulletin

diamond terrapin


6. The USA: New Jersey cuts terrapin harvest short to protect turtle population
SOURCE: – DATE: 26th January 2016

For the second year in a row, the state has cut short the commercial harvest season for the northern diamondback terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin) to counter excessive harvesting spurred by growing demand for the turtle from food markets overseas. Anyone charged with illegally harvesting the turtles between now and then will be assessed a $200 fine for each terrapin in their possession.

The terrapin is the only turtle species that lives in the brackish waters of New Jersey’s coastal marshes and estuaries. The turtle plays an important role along New Jersey’s coastline. Until recently, commercial harvesting of the turtles had been relatively minor in the state, but increased demand, especially from Asian food markets, has put growing pressure on the species.
The Department of Environmental Protection has been working with neighbouring states and the New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council to help protect the diamondback and keep its population stable in the state. Research to determine the terrapin population numbers, and to gather ecological data and habitat needs are planned.

Link to this web article online (English)

7. The USA: Stolen tortoise returned to Clearwater pet store
SOURCE: DATE: 28th January 2016

More than a month after the tiny tortoise was nabbed from Pet Safari on Highland Avenue, Clearwater, Florida, he's finally back where he belongs, and the woman who police say is responsible has been arrested. Two days before Christmas, Clearwater police say, 41-year-old Nicole Perry was strolling through Pet Safari. Video surveillance showed her stopping by the tortoise right before closing time, picking it up and shoving it into her purse.

Link to this web article online (English)

Stolen turtle in the USA

© Pet Safari


Asian Turtle ProgramJoin Us on Facebook   ATP would like to thanks the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund for supporting this website
Asian Turtle Program - Indo Myanmar Conservation
Room#1806 CT1, C14 Bac Ha Building, To Huu Street, Nam Tu Liem District, Hanoi, Vietnam
PO Box 46
Phone:+84 (0)4 7302 8389

Also in the News Vietnam

Other information that might be of interest to you follow this link

Support the Program

For more information on supporting the Asian Turtle Program please contact us