THE CONTEXT: Conservationists aim to help at least one male and female of Rafetus swinhoei to breed to ensure that this species can return from the brink of extinction.
- Despite the Rafetus swinhoei being revered in Vietnam, it is also extremely threatened. For two decades it has been listed as ‘Critically Endangered’ on the Red List maintained by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
- When two of the last remaining Swinhoe’s softshell turtles died without producing any known offspring between 2016 and 2019, this species became the most endangered turtle in the world.
- In response, conservationists made the recovery of this turtle one of their highest priorities. Swinhoe’s softshell turtles were included in the five-year conservation plan of Hanoi People’s Committee in 2018 and added to the committee’s 2030 vision plan.
- Then, in October 2020, a female turtle was captured in Vietnam and confirmed by veterinarians to be a female Rafetus swinhoei. This imperiled turtle species may now have a second chance at survival. The confirmation of Swinhoe’s softshell turtle in Hanoi’s Dong Mo lake means there is now a female in addition to a male, who is at the Suzhou Zoo in China.
- Ultimately, conservationists aim to help at least one male and female to breed to ensure that this species can return from the brink of extinction. The race to save this flagship species in Hanoi highlights the importance of working in partnership to mobilise resources and address issues like water pollution, safer habitat and more sustainable resource management. It also helps to replicate that success to save other species.
- At the same time, scientists are working to better understand the ecological role of this species.
Reference: Down to earthSpread the Word