ATCN News


One of the worlds rarest turtles rescued in Vietnam

Rafetus swinhoei, the turtle appeared to be in good health despite its ordeal
Photo by: Tim McCormack ? Asian Turtle Program

On Wednesday the 26th of November 2008 a local fisherman from Son Tram Commune, Son Tay district, Ha Noi (previously Ha Tay province) caught a large soft-shell turtle weighing 69kg and measuring 90cm in length.  The giant soft-shell turtle was identified as a living example of the world?s rarest turtle species, Swinhoe?s soft-shell turtle (Rafetus swinhoei), for which only four living examples are known to remain in the world.  Two of the surviving turtles are in a Chinese zoo, another in Hoan Kiem Lake in the center of Hanoi, and the last wild example of the species occupied Dong Mo Lake in Son Tay district of Hanoi until it was caught by fishermen on the 26th.

Since the beginning of 2007, a conservation team from Cleveland Metroparks Zoo?s Asian Turtle Program (ATP) has been working at the lake complex and within surrounding communities with Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV) to conserve the species after the turtle was confirmed in the lake in late 2006.  The large soft-shell caught by fishermen escaped from the lake when a dam broke during flooding on the 1st of November.  A net was placed across the flooded stream about 4 km below the broken dam to contain the turtle and prevent it from reaching the
Red River, where it would be lost. It was within this area the turtle was
caught

At 90cm long the Rafetus swinhoei can grow to be the largest freshwater turtle found in Asia.
Photo by: Tim McCormack ? Asian Turtle Program

Following news of the capture, the Forest Protection Department (FPD) arrived quickly at the scene, aware of the importance of the species and its escape from the lake.  Six hours of negotiations then followed before the fisherman agreed to release the animal and the ATP with help from a team from the Turtle Conservation Centre (TCC) at Cuc Phuong National Park were able to move the animal back to the lake where the turtle was released.
 
For further information please contact:
Asian Turtle Program
PO Box 222
Hanoi, Vietnam
Tele.  84 (0)4-775-3935
Email:  Visit the Asian Turtle Conservation Network website:
asianturtlenetwork.org