More than one individual of Swinhoe’s Softshell Turtle living in Dong Mo lake?

For many years since our team started to focus our conservation efforts of Swinhoe’s Softshell Turtle (Rafetus swinhoei), also known as Hoan Kiem Turtle, in Dong Mo lake, Son Tay town, Hanoi, local fishermen have stated that there is more than one individual of these giant turtles inhabiting the lake. On the 6th of August 2018, when making observation around a no-fishing zone, near an artificial nesting beach built by the ATP, for the first time our team observed two large soft-shell turtles simultaneously. The two turtles were 100m distance from each other.

A long term captivity  Giant Asian Pond Turtle (Heosemys grandis) individual is wondering around his new home. Photo by: Hoang Van Ha – ATP/IMC.
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Interview surveys in northern Vietnam look for remaining Swinhoe’s softshell turtles in the wild

From the 15th of October 2018, the Asian Turtle Program (ATP) team is spending 10-days in the field to collect information on the existence of the world’s rarest turtle species, the Swinhoe’s softshell turtle (Rafetus swinhoei) in Lai Chau province, northern Vietnam. Following the Da (Black) River, 91 interviews have been completed so far, with 15 trade records for shells and live turtles turtles of three species recorded.

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46 Big-headed turtles rescued in northern Vietnam

We have just said good bye to 31 endangered Big-headed Turtles (Platysternon megacephalum), released back into the wild at the end of September 2018. But almost immediately more have arrived at the Turtle Conservation Centre (TCC) of Cuc Phuong National Park in Vietnam.  On the 6th of October 2018, 46 endangered Big-headed Turtles were seized in Quang Xuong district, Thanh Hoa province by the Police and Thanh Hoa Forest Protection Department (FPD) from a coach departed from Nghe An Province. The confiscation also included 24 Sunda pangolins.

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Rafetus habitat in Vietnam being disturbed again

As you might still remember, in April 2018, we have made an announcement on the discovery of the second wild Swinhoe's Softshell Turtle (Rafetus swinhoei) in a small lake, Xuan Khanh lake, which is approximately 5km away from Dong Mo lake where the first wild animal of the species was located in 2007. In April intensive fishing activity was threatening the animal which is why we decided to make an announcement on the lakes importance despite the risks this might also hold for the species by bringing attention to this new location.  Fortunately, the second wild Rafetus was not accidently caught during this time. However, since the 18th of September 2018, the same fishing team has returned to to Xuan Khanh with a plan to stay and carry out a one-month-long intensive fishing activities.

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Thank you !!!

For making it to the end of this newsletter and for supporting us on every single project, rescue or release.

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We would also like to thank all of our government and non-government partners that we work with on different projects.

Your support helps make all this work possible. If you would like to see more conservation projects, rescues or releases please make a donation.


Organizational donors

- American Association of Zoo Keepers
- Bristol Zoo, UK
- British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA)
- British Herpetological Society
- British Chelonian Group (BCG)
- Cleveland Metroparks Zoo (CMZ)
- Chevrolet Vietnam
- Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF)
- Drayton Manor Park and Zoo
- The HDH Wills Wildlife Maintenance Trust
- International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
- IUCN Netherlands - Purchase of Nature
- Ocean Park Conservation Foundation (OPCF)
- Paradise Park Zoo, UK
- Paignton Zoo Environmental Park
- Rainforest Trust
- Thanh Truong Loc Construction Ltd. Company
- The Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund
- Turtle Conservation Fund (TCF)
- World Land Trust, UK
- Zoological Society of London (ZSL)

Individual donors

- Aaron Marty
- Benjamine Tapley
- Billy Tu
- Bonnie Raphael
- Daniel Goncalves
- Daniel Nordberg
- Diana Bell
- Doori Lichtenberger
- Duong Dang
- Herbert Becker
- Jake Brunner
- Jackin Lam
- James Harding
- Joe Monahan
- Lena Helena
- Louise Fletcher
- Luke Pitts
- Nam Anh
- Phuong Mai
- Scott Trageser
- Siegfried Stricker/ Christel Stricker
- Stephane Levesque
- Ta Thuong
- The Days
- Tony Walker
- Ursela Kiesele
- Yasemin Kukkla
- Zachary Eben Frenzel

Asian Turtle Program of Indo-Myanmar Conservation

Room#1806 CT1, C14 Bac Ha Building, To Huu Street, Nam Tu Liem District, Hanoi, Vietnam
PO Box 46 
Phone:+84 (0) 24 7302 8389