The Turtle Conservation Centre (TCC) in Cuc Phuong National Park, Vietnam

Support the TCC and its conservation activities!

The TCC currently needs additional funds for maintaining the current population of over 1000 turtles. Funds will be also used to finance rescue and release operations as well as education activities in the centre.

Previous sponsors have already committed to continue their support of the TCC next year!  However, the TCC is in need of an additional funds of $20,000 to secure the turtles’ future here and we really need your help to reach it.

Your donation could make the difference.

In regards to donations and funding, please contact us via email: support@asianturtleprogram.org
or donate by visiting the ATP donation page (designated use: TCC)

Entrance to the TCC and the Visitor Interpretation Center (VIC)

The Turtle Conservation Centre (TCC) is located at Cuc Phuong National Park, 120 km kilometres southwest from Hanoi, Vietnam. The TCC was established by Fauna and Flora International (FFI) in 1998 as a rescue and holding centre for tortoise and freshwater turtles which were seen in the extensive illegal wildlife trade during the 1980’s and 1990’s . It was widely recognized that this trade, largely to China for consumption as food and for traditional medicines was entirely unsustainable and needed to be addressed.

The TCC rapidly developed into a conservation project and was transferred to the national park management at the end of 2001. Today, the TCC serves as a regional flagship for tortoise and freshwater turtle conservation efforts and for educating the public about the critical threat to the survival of turtles in Vietnam.

The centre encompasses an area of about 7,000 square meters comprising enclosures, aquatic tanks, and specialized breeding and holding facilities for more than 1000 turtles representing 22 of Vietnam’s 25 native species . Most animals at the TCC have been confiscated by wildlife protection authorities from the illegal trade or were hatched at the centre.

The TCC has now developed clear objectives to increase the centre’s impact on turtle conservation activities in Vietnam:

  1. Rescue, holding and releasing turtles confiscated from the illegal wildlife trade

The TCC plays a central role in ensuring turtles in the illegal trade can be rescued and cared for.

Although large confiscations of turtles are becoming rare in Vietnam, the TCC still receives endangered and critically endangered turtles from the trade. In 2019, over 180 turtles were transferred to the TCC including Indochinese Box Turtles (Cuora galbinifrons), Bourret’s box turtles (Cuora bourreti), Keeled Box turtles (Cuora mouhotii) and Four-eyed turtles (Sacalia quadriocellata) amongst others.

Since it is difficult finding protected nature areas where it is relatively safe to release turtles, the TCC maintains turtles until appropriate release sites are found. In 2019, the TCC released over 80 turtles of critically endangered and endangered species such as the Bourret’s Box Turtle (Cuora bourreti) and Keeled Box Turtle (Cuora mouhotii) back into the wild at the protected forest area.

Species currently held at the TCC:

Family/Species Common name Conservation status

(IUCN)

Platysternon megacephalum Big- headed turtle EN
Cuora amboinensis kamaroma* Malayan box turtle VU
Cuora galbinifrons* Indochinese box turtle CR
Cuora bourreti* Bourret’s box turtle CR
Cuora picturata Southern Vietnamese Box turtle CR
Cuora mouhotii* Keeled box turtle EN
Cyclemys oldhamii Southern Asian leaf turtle NE
Cyclemys pulchristriata* Eastern Black-bridged Leaf turtle NE
Geoemyda spengleri* Black-breasted leaf turtle EN
Heosemys grandis* Giant Asian pond turtle VU
Heosemys annandalii* Yellow-headed Temple turtle EN
Malayemys subtrijuga Mekong Snail-eating turtle VU
Mauremys annamensis* Vietnamese pond turtle CR
Mauremys mutica Asian yellow pond turtle EN
Mauremys sinensis* Chinese striped-neck turtle EN
Sacalia quadriocellata* Four-eyed turtle EN
Siebenrockiella crassicollis* Black marsh turtle VU
Indotestudo elongata* Elongated tortoise CR
Manouria impressa Impressed tortoise VU
Amyda (cartilaginea) ornata Asiatic softshell turtle VU
Palea steindachneri Wattle-necked softshell turtle EN
Pelodiscus variegatus Spotted softshell turtle NE

* Breeding species at the TCC
CR – Critically Endangered; EN – Endangered; VU – Vulnerable; NE – Not evaluated; LC – Least Concern

  1. Awareness and education

In 2010 the TCC opened a section of the turtle centre to the park’s 80,000 annual visitors as part of an initiative to enhance potential opportunities to raise public awareness. The visitor interpretation centre (VIC) includes underwater viewing tanks, an incubation viewing room, outdoor enclosures and large ponds where turtles can be seen in near wild settings. Throughout the VIC, interpretive panels, photographs and signboards have been created to educate visitors, students, rangers and officials about the diverse and endangered turtle fauna of Vietnam. It has become a priority at the TCC to increase public awareness on the values of protecting wildlife as this is a fundamental first step to protect tortoises and freshwater turtles in Vietnam.

For this reason, the TCC also puts special importance on training students and young professionals, preferably Vietnamese, to encourage the next generation of young turtle scientists and conservationists:

Since 2005, the TCC has been the host of the annual Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Field Skill Training Course for university students and rangers from Vietnam. This week-long training course was developed by the TCC and ATP/IMC and is very popular. Since then, over 150 students from numerous universities and colleges have taken part, and the course has been taken to other Southeast Asian countries such as Laos in order to expand ATP’s outreach. The course provides participants with knowledge about the extinction threats facing Asia’s turtles, about turtle ecology and how to identify different native turtle species native. Many participants from the course have completed university thesis projects on turtle research, some of them based at the TCC.

The centre has also established a program to give students and staff from international universities and zoos the opportunity to gain experience and exchange knowledge through conducting short research projects or volunteering at the centre.

Finally, the TCC regularly welcomes rangers and officers from various Vietnam authorities to teach them about turtle and tortoise conservation, identification and legal protections to support law enforcement and prevent wildlife crime.

  1. Captive breeding

With so many turtles coming into the centre it has been essential to identify priorities for conservation breeding activities. Limited resources make a professional breeding program for many species difficult. One breeding priority at the TCC is a turtle species native to Cuc Phuong National Park, the Keeled box turtle (Cuora mouhotii). The TCC keeps individuals of this species in large enclosures and incubates eggs found in these enclosures. Please check the species list above for species currently reproducing at the TCC.

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