November 21, 2005

"God give me strength"
Keeled Box Turtle (Pyxidea mouhotii) rescued from Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi, Vietnam

Plastron of the tortoise with the message: "God please give me strength"

In an unusual incident today a Keeled Box Turtle (Pyxidea mouhotii) had to be rescued from
Hoan Kiem Lake in central Hanoi, at 15:00hrs a young man was seen throwing the animal approximately 20m into the lake, the tortoise, normally a deep forest species associated with limestone mountains landed upside down but was able to backstroke to shore as a large crowd gathered to watch.

Initially recovered by a fisherman, the animal was then thrown back approximately 30m into the lake when the Vietnamese language message ?God please give me strength? was seen painted on the plastron, and the name ?Phan Van Hieu? with date of birth ?8th May 1987? painted across the carapace.  Possibly the name and birth date of the young man seen throwing the turtle.

The second time the turtle made it to shore it was more fortunate to be recovered by Mr Nguyen Xuan Thuan, a turtle conservationist biologist working for the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Vietnam and currently studying the giant softshell turtle Rafetus swinhoei for which the lake is more famous.

After its ordeal the tortoise was transferred to the Turtle Conservation Centre (TCC) of Cuc Phuong National Park.


Report by: Tim McCormack
WCS regional turtle research coordinator.