Tortoise and freshwater turtle species diversity in the Southeast Asia Region is one of the greatest in the world with over 90 species accounting for over 25% of all known tortoise and freshwater turtle species. Regardless of the high diversity and importance of Southeast Asia of freshwater and tortoise, many of these remain on the world's most threatened species. However, according to a 2011 review of global tortoise and freshwater turtle species from The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), 17 Asian species are in the top 25 most endangered globally.
Viet Nam is home to 25 species of tortoise and freshwater turtles including two endemic species, the Southern Vietnamese Box Turtle (Cuora picturata) and the Vietnamese Pond Turtle (Mauremys annamensis) with populations on the decline. The Vietnamese Pond Turtle is extremely scarce and only found in the central region of Viet Nam, the Southern Vietnamese Box Turtle is found in Southern provinces surrounding Phu Yen and Khanh Hoa provinces.
Hunting and habitat loss have been major factors that have led to the decline of this culturally revered species, which is a symbol of Viet Nam’s majestic history. Tortoises and freshwater turtles are hunted mainly for the wildlife trade, used in traditional medicine and pet.
What are we doing?
WCS Viet Nam works with the Vietnamese government agencies to build capacity and inform policy which enables effective oversight of wildlife trade activities. We conduct research on crime syndicates, locations of illegal wildlife sale/production, smuggling routes which can help local law enforcement agencies with their investigations and arrests.
At the same time, we also conduct research and supervision of epidemics in wildlife and the possibility of disease transmission between people and wildlife.
We work closely with law enforcement agencies at national and local level including police and ranger and provide them technical assistance such as intelligence, species identification, legal advice to target high-level criminal networks.
Turtle Conservation Coalition [Rhodin, A.G.J., Walde, A.D., Horne, B.D., van Dijk, P.P., Blanck, T., and Hudson, R. (Eds.)]. 2011. Turtles in Trouble: The World’s 25+ Most Endangered Tortoises and Freshwater Turtles—2011. Lunenburg, MA: IUCN/SSC Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group, Turtle Conservation Fund, Turtle Survival Alliance, Turtle Conservancy, Chelonian Research Foundation, Conservation International, Wildlife Conservation Society, and San Diego Zoo Global, 54 pp.
McCormack, T., Stuart, B. & Blanck, T. 2016. Cuora picturata. (errata version published in 2017) The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T163463A115303820. www.iucnredlist.org. Downloaded on 12 July 2017.
Asian Turtle Trade Working Group. 2000. Mauremys annamensis. (errata version published in 2016) The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2000: e.T12876A97370458. www.iucnredlist.org. Downloaded on 12 July 2017.