Since 2005, the Asian Turtle Program (ATP) of Indo Myanmar Conservation (IMC) and the Turtle Conservation Center (TCC) of Cuc Phuong National Park has held an annual Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Field Skills Training Course for Vietnamese students, young conservationists and wildlife protection officials.
In the week-long course, participants are provided with practical skills and experience relating to research and conservation of turtles through a combination of classroom instruction and field exercises.
Students learn about the extinction threats facing Asia’s turtles, about turtle ecology and how to identify different turtle species native to Vietnam. Participants also acquire practical skills such as handling turtles, measuring and mapping, using GPS, interview methods, and aquatic trapping methods, and complete sessions both in local communities and the forest.
Led by ATP/IMC staff, TCC staff and other professionals, the course is increasingly popular with hundreds of applicants from numerous universities and colleges each year. Students have continued to go on and participate in conservation and research related to the taxa. They have also effectively contributed to conservation by reporting cases of illegal trade in turtles and transferring animals from the trade to the TCC.
ATP/IMC is hoping to take the training course to other SE Asian countries to develop a community of young conservationists conserving native species across the region and collaborating across borders. In 2019, the team took the course to Laos for the first time, with the help of the Lao Conservation Trust for Wildlife.