Community Football Tournament Increases Vietnamese Pond Turtle Conservation Awareness

On the 12th and 13th of September 2012, the Asian Turtle Program (ATP) brought together eight football teams from Binh Minh commune, an area that is also home to the endemic and critically endangered Vietnamese Pond Turtle (Mauremys annamensis). A focus of the Mauremys annamensis Project (MAP) in central Vietnam.

The friendly yet competitive football matches took place at the commune’s stadium in an effort to increase conservation awareness to the important species. “We organized this friendly football tournament to build relationships and strengthen support for conservation among the local youth. We believe this will help increase conservation awareness in our effort to protect the Vietnamese Pond Turtle from illegal hunting and habitat loss,” said Ms. Thu Hien, MAP Coordinator.

The Vietnamese Pond Turtle (Mauremys annamensis) is a species of particular conservation concern. A highly localized endemic species found only in lowland coastal areas of central Vietnam that also see some of the highest human population densities in the country. Believed to range from Da Nang southward to Phu Yen province. The ecology and distribution of the species was first described in 1939, but following that, no field records of wild individuals were collected until 2007 when members of the ATP rediscovered Mauremys annamensis in the wild in the Quang Nam province.
Many gaps still remain in knowledge of the species. And even though it is fully protected under Vietnam’s principal wildlife protection law, Decree 32/2006-ND-CP, the species continues to be hunted for the wildlife trade. Currently, this species is not believed to occur in any protected areas, which further complicates conservation.

At the tournament, Mr Khac Trinh, the top scorer of the My Long village team, said, “I am happy to participate in this football tournament because most of my friends and I are busy with studying and earning a living. Through this event, I think that many of the youths from Binh Minh commune have participates in ‘a shot for Mauremys annamensis.’ This is both our slogan for the tournament and a promise to protect this species, together.” At the close of the tournament prizes were awarded to the top three teams: My Long, Nhat Tay and Nhi Dong villages.

The ATP will continue to focus conservation efforts including community awareness in both Binh Minh and Binh Khuong communes of Quang Ngai province with community support for conservation essential for such a species where habitat is fragmented and unprotected.

Press release by: Pham Thi Thu Hien – ATP

Date: 19th September 2012

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