Vietnamese pond turtle conservation

The Vietnamese pond turtle is endemic to central Vietnam where it is found in slow-flowing streams and small ponds. For a long time, the population estimate of the wild population was insufficient to be able to determine a threatened status for the species. Around the 1980s, however, the species was considered common throughout its range according to the local population, but has since undergone a catastrophic decline of as much as 99%. The Vietnamese pond turtle is today classified as Critically Endangered (CR) on the international red list. Because the populations that remain are so small and fragmented that they can no longer recover on their own, the species is now considered functionally extinct in the wild.

The main reason for the species' drastic decline is the unsustainable collection of wild individuals in Vietnam since 1985. The collected turtles were sold for their meat and body parts, both for consumption and also for traditional Asian medicine. Blood from the Vietnamese pond turtle mixed with rice wine is believed to cure heart disease. Some of the collected pond turtles are sold on to the international pet trade. Although the species is now very rare in the wild, they are still hunted due to their high economic value on the illegal market.

Another major threat to the Vietnamese pond turtle is the destruction of their habitat. Ponds, streams and wetlands are diked to favor agricultural land, for example rice plantations. Nowadays, suitable habitats for the Vietnamese pond turtle are almost non-existent.

Vietnamese pond turtle.

What we do at Nordens Ark

Nordens Ark has kept Vietnamese pond turtles since 2008 and the species is part of our conservation project "An Ark for the world's turtles", which is a sanctuary and future breeding center for endangered turtles. The rescue population of Vietnamese pond turtle is extremely important to the survival of the species as it is functionally extinct in the wild. Nordens Ark participates in the European breeding program and takes great responsibility for the species as we keep one of the largest breeding groups in Europe and the most genetically important animals in the breeding program. The Vietnamese pond turtle has a sanctuary on our Turtle Sheet until it can be reintroduced into the wild.

Eggs from Vietnamese pond turtle at Nordens Ark.

Updates from the project - 2023

In August 2022, six incredibly important Vietnamese pond turtle hatchlings hatched. The parents are wild-born and were captured in Vietnam about 35 years ago, then sold as pets before finally being handed over to the conservation project at Nordens Ark. By their origin, both parents are important individuals in the breeding program with their unique genes and they possess great conservation value for the survival of the species. So important that they were the only ones in the breeding program who were allowed to reproduce in 2022. In order to have as genetically healthy a population as possible, careful monitoring is kept of which turtles reproduce and when. Eventually, this year's young will be sent to other breeding facilities in order to reproduce and help preserve the species.

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