Turtle Awareness Program for Schools Around Xuan Khanh and Dong Mo Lake, Vietnam

From the 20th to 30th December 2019, the Asian Turtle Program (ATP) of Indo Myanmar Conservation (IMC) coordinated with Ha Noi Fishery department to deliver the annual school programs for communities around Dong Mo and Xuan Khanh lakes, which aims to raise awareness for Vietnam’s tortoise and freshwater turtle species, in particular, Swinhoe’s Softshell Turtle or the Hoan Kiem Turtle (Rafetus swinhoei), with each of the lakes containing 1 of the last 3 known Hoan Kiem Turtles on earth!  

This year, 829 students from 16 classes of 6 secondary schools (Kim Son, Son Dong, Co Dong, Son Tay, Xuan Son, and Yen Bai) in Ba Vi and Son Tay districts participated in the program. The program combines presentations about turtle conservation and ecology with fun games, and is designed to help students understand the importance of turtles (with a focus on the Hoan Kiem Turtle) as well as the main threats they are facing locally and nationally. All students were enthusiastic and excited to learn about such a special animal living close to them. 

ATP/IMC’s Rafetus Project Officer, Nguyen Tai Thang, teaches the children how navigate the game and save the ‘Lucky Turtle’. Photo by: Jack Carney – ATP/IMC
Pham Xuan Quyen, ATP/IMC’s Rafetus Field Assistant, introduced the structural characteristics of turtle shells to the students of Son Dong school. Photo by: Pham Nhu Quynh– ATP/IMC.

The Hoan Kiem turtle (Rafetus swinhoei) is a critically endangered species, and may become extinct in the near future if we do not take urgent actions to protect them. We highlighted raising awareness for younger generations in the area where the species lives as a key step to turning its fortunes around in the wild. If you would like to see more of our awareness activities or find out how you can support us, please visit our website www.asianturtleprogram.org  

We would like to thank the Son Tay and Ba Vi district department of education and the secondary schools of Kim Son, Co Dong, Son Dong, Xuan Son and Yen Bai commune. We also would like to thank the donors, partners and supporters of our Rafetus project: Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). 

Press release by: Pham Nhu Quynh – ATP/IMC. 

09th January 2020 

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