The Annual Community Meeting On Protecting The World’s Rarest Freshwater Turtle

14th March 2023
Pham Xuan Quyen (ATP/IMC) & Nathan Phung (ATP/IMC)

(Hanoi, Vietnam) – As part of the Swinhoe’s Softshell Turtle (Rafetus swinhoei) awareness activities among fishermen around Dong Mo Lake (Hanoi, Vietnam), on the 10th of March 2023, the Asian Turtle Program (ATP) of Indo-Myanmar Conservation (IMC) cooperate with Hanoi Fisheries Sub-Department, Kim Son Commune and Son Tay Forest Ranger Department (FPD) to held the annual community meeting with local people around the area of Dong Mo Lake at Kim Son Commune, Son Tay, Hanoi. The Swinhoe’s Softshell Turtle (Rafetus swinhoei) is better known in Vietnam due to a 15th century legend related to giant turtles of the same species which used to reside in central Hanoi is Hoan Kiem Lake, the lake of The Restored Sword, with the turtles from this lake affectionately known as the Hoan Kiem Turtles in Vietnam.

Mr Pham Xuan Quyen-Rafetus Project Assistant, presenting updates on the situation and threats to the Hoan Kiem Turtle in Dong Mo Lake. Photo: Nguyen Van Trong (ATP/IMC)
Local fishermen & cadres at the agreement signing ceremony. Photo: Nguyen Van Trong (ATP/IMC)

At the meeting, the ATP/IMC staff shared updates on the organisation’s work in conserving the species and the threats these magnificent creatures continue to face. For many years, local fishermen have been essential to the ATP/IMC’s conservation of the legendary turtle in the area. With experience and local knowledge, the fishermen have provided important updates to the ATP/IMC on the turtles or activities that might cause harm to the animals. They have also supported the Rafetus Project team in capturing the turtles so that the identity and gender of animals in the lake can be confirmed to help support conservation breeding efforts for this extremely rare species.

At the end of the meeting, 46 fishermen, along with Hanoi Fisheries Sub-Department, Son Tay Forest Ranger Sub-Department and a representative from Kim Son Commune Government, signed an agreement on not using lethal fishing methods that cause harm to the turtle, like explosive, electrofishing or hooked lines, to help to protect the turtles currently residing in Dong Mo Lake and support efforts to find new specimens in the area as well as support the establishment of a conservation centre for the species in the lake.

IMC would like to thank all sponsors, especially Danko Group for supporting our conservation activities.

Local fishermen supporting the capture of the Turtle in Dong Mo Lake. Photo: Nguyen Tai Thang (ATP/IMC)
Mr. Chu Duc Hieu-Conservation Manager of Hanoi Fisheries Sub-Department, discuss sustainable exploitation and forbidden exploitation methods that cause harm to the Turtle in Dong Mo Lake. Photo: Nguyen Van Trong (ATP/IMC)

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