February 26, 2006

The Asian Turtle Crisis on Tour ? February 2006

Bui Dang Phong of the Cuc Phuong Turtle Conservation Center leads a group of rangers during group discussions on the controversial issue of wildlife farming.

Central Vietnam - The Vietnam-based Asian Turtle Program carried out training workshops for wildlife protection officers from three provinces in central Vietnam February 12-18, field testing new training modules and evaluation methods, and holding a special lecture at Hue National University for students.  Dubbed the ?Asian Turtle Crisis Road Show? the Vietnam program team conducted a week-long tour of four provinces holding Turtle Identification, Ecology, and Trade workshops in Hue, Da Nang, and Quang Tri for frontline wildlife protection officers.  Meetings were also held with university professors at three universities and provincial authorities in Quang Nam to discuss upcoming projects in central Vietnam focused on Cuora bourreti and Mauremys annamensis.

The turtle ID workshops were new in that it was the first time that the revised discussion module was carried out, aimed at engaging wildlife protection officers in discussion about difficult aspects of their work, such as what to do with confiscated animals, the role of wildlife farming, and the responsibilities of forest rangers in wildlife protection.  The workshop also tested a new evaluation program for testing rangers, which in addition to pre- and post-testing their knowledge and identification skills, includes a series of questions aimed at better understanding the attitude of rangers in relation to their work protecting wildlife. 

A total of 60 rangers attended the workshops representing provincial mobile protection units, district leadership, and provincial legal, training, and conservation departments.  Although all three provinces did well, Quang Tri rangers overall achieved the highest test scores, scoring 80% on the ID test and showing a 41% improvement in knowledge between the pre- and post-testing period. 

The Asian Turtle Crisis Tour also carried out a half-day awareness program for more than 90 students and teachers from Hue University.  Similar to the enforcement training program, but adapted to student audiences, the training modules are focused on raising awareness amongst students enrolled in forestry, ecology, and environment programs about tortoises and freshwater turtles, and encouraging their interest in their protection. 

Da Nang Rangers take a turtle identification test following training aimed at improving their skills in identifying turtles confiscated in trade.

A series of meetings with department heads and professors from Hue University, the Science and Agriculture College in Hue, and the Quang Nam Science and Technology University focused on encouraging student involvement in upcoming field work with Cuora bourreti and Mauremys annamensis in the region.  Professors were also invited to identify students for the Asian Turtle Program?s upcoming field skills training course, scheduled to be held at Cuc Phuong National Park, March 20-27. 

Turtle ID, Ecology, and Trade workshops have been carried out for wildlife protection officers from 30 of Vietnam?s 62 provinces, as well as for rangers from seven national parks.  The courses are instructed by Bui Dang Phong, manager of the Turtle Conservation Center at Cuc Phuong National Park, Douglas Hendrie, Nguyen Xuan Thuan, and Tim McCormack.  Logistical and organizational support was provided by Tran Thu Hang of Education for Nature- Vietnam (ENV).

The workshops were made possible through support from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.

For more information, please contact:

The Asian Turtle Conservation Network