Asian Turtle Program
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The Asian Turtle Program (ATP)

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The Asian Turtle Program was established in 1998 and incorporated into the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo/Cleveland Zoological Society's Asia regional program in 2003. Since the ATP originated with the development of the Turtle Conservation Centre (TCC) at Cuc Phuong National Park together with our local partner NGO, Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV), we have been working on the conservation of tortoises and freshwater turtles (TFT) in southeast Asia with a focus on Vietnam.

The aim of ATP is to establish a safe and sustainable future for Asian turtles, and to ensure that no further turtle species become extinct in the region. We implement strategic interventions that directly contribute to the conservation of Asian turtles, helping to ensure efficient use of limited resources, as well as developing capacity, strengthening leadership, and ultimately effecting positive attitudinal and behavioural change within society.

Above: Mauremys annamensis in
Da Nang, Central Vietnam

short news updates

15th December 2012
Turtles in Vietnamese culture
Turtles are an integral part of many legends in Vietnam. One legend tells how the Kim Quy Deity (Golden Turtle Deity) presented itself to An Dương Vương, who ruled over the kingdom of Âu Lạc (now Vietnam) from 257 to 207 BC, in answer to his prayers. The Golden Turtle gave a claw which was used to make the trigger of a crossbow which was the Vietnamese armies secret weapon in their victory against Zhao Tuo, a Qin general. Another 15th-century legend tells the story of King Lê Lợi who returned his sacred sword named Thuận Thiên (Heaven's Will) to the Golden Turtle in Lục Thủy lake after he had defeated the invading Chinese Ming army. The name of Lục Thủy lake was then changed to Sword Lake (Vietnamese: Hồ Gươm) or Lake of the Returned Sword (Hoàn Kiếm Lake). In Vietnamese culture turtles have also traditionally being considered a symbol of longevity and everlastingness, 82 stone stele mounted on the backs of carved turtles can be found in Hanoi’s temple of literature where they record results from imperial examinations of the Lê and Mạc dynasties from 1442 to 1779.
24th February 2015

Taking Down Vietnam's Marine Turtle Kingpin

On the 19th of November 2014, Vietnam’s National Environmental Police raided three warehouses in the city of Nha Trang and discovered more than 4.3 tons of dead marine turtles. A month later local police raided three additional locations connected to the same criminal network and found 4,000 more marine turtles. The combined volume of turtles seized in both raids was more than an estimated 10 tons making this the single largest seizure of marine turtles in world history. The raids came as a result of a three-year investigation by Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV), a Vietnam based NGO which identified Mr Hoang Manh Cuong as the “kingpin” standing behind the network. The kingpin was protected by his brother who stepped up after the raids and accepted the responsibility. However, the story is not over. What remains to be seen is whether the justice system in Vietnam will deliver appropriate punishment to Cuong for his serious crimes, which have both national and international implications. This is an important opportunity for Vietnam to show that it can meet its global obligation to eradicate wildlife crime and the criminal organizations that engage in such activities.

24th December 2014
Ben Tre Province, Vietnam: Southern fisherman catches giant southern turtle

A fisherman in Chau Thanh district of Ben Tre province (southern Vietnam) caught a large Asiatic soft-shell turtle (Amyda cartilaginea) weighing 23.5kg (81 cm long and 50 cm wide) on the 14th of December 2014. He claims to have been offered 20 - 30 million VND ($950 - $1,430) for the animal but has so far refused. Amyda cartilaginea is highly threatened in Vietnam, listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list. ATP NOTE: Despite this the animal has still not been confiscated as it is not clearly listed as protected under Vietnamese law, unfortunately such cases are not unusual and highlights current gaps in legislation in Vietnam.



10th February 2014

Wildlife at Risk (WAR) - Cu Chi Wildlife Rescue Station released 50 turtles back to the wild in 2013

Over the past year, Wildlife At Risk (WAR) staff at the Cu Chi Wildlife Rescue Station have been working closely together with officers of the Forest Protection Department in Ho Chi Minh City to rescue and release approximately 50 individuals of different turtle species including Elongated Tortoises (Indotestudo elongata),Malayan Box Turtles (Cuora amboinensis) and Yellow-headed temple turtles (Heosemys annandalii) in the Bu Gia Map National Park – Binh Phuoc Province and Lo Go Xa Mat National Park – Tay Ninh Provice.


6th September 2013

VTV1 Television news covers Mauremys return event (Vietnamese)

Vietnamese TV station covers historic event of 71 Vietnamese pond turtles (Mauremys annamensis) returning from Europe to Vietnam.


29th August 2013

Cuora picturata twins hatch in the Netherlands

Ever wondered what twin turtles look like? Check out the photos from Richard Struijk, the European studbook keeper for Cuora species, who was surprised to find two Lesser Indochinese box turtles (Cuora picturata) hatching from the same egg. The turtles were still connected by the umbilical cord and seem very healthy.

Thank you Richard for sharing pictures of your Cuora twins with us!

20th August 2013

Manouria impressa rescued by young student in Thua Thien Hue province

On 9th of August 2013, a female Impressed tortoise (Manouria impressa) was successfully released to Bach Ma National Park by the Forest Protection Department (FPD) of Nam Dong district, Thua Thien Hue province.

The turtle was going to be killed for food by a local man who bought it for 150,000VND (~ $7) in Huong Huu commune, Nam Dong district. Fortunately, it was saved by a young student named Phan Van Tien Loc who lives in the same commune as the man and who participated in the annual Asian Turtle Program Tortoise (ATP) Freshwater Turtle Field Skill Training Course for students in 2013. ATP in collaboration with Nam Dong FPD and Laguna company then released the lucky animal successfully back to the wild.


5th July 2013

Endangered turtle handed in following student training course

On the 30th of June 2013 a Chinese stripe-necked turtle (Mauremys sinensis) was handed into the Asian Turtle Program (ATP) after a former ATP Torotise and Freshwater Turtle Field Skill Training Course student convinced a local man in Da Nang of the turtle's endangered status. The turtle will be transferred to the Turtle Conservation Centre (TCC).


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Activities in Vietnam have focused on priority species including critically endangered and endemic species of greatest conservation concern. Project focus on the endemic Vietnamese Pond Turtle (Mauremys annamensis) and Indochinese Box Turtles (Cuora bourreti) and (Cuora picturata) in central Vietnam. And the legendary Hoan Kiem Turtle (Rafetus swinhoei) also known as Swinhoe's Softshell Turtle in northern Vietnam, largely recognised as the most endangered turtle species in the world.

Training and awareness undertaken by the ATP include enforcement training for forest rangers, raising public awareness about the importance of protecting Vietnam's turtles, conducting conservation-focused research, and building the next generation of young scientists and professionals with expertise in Vietnam's turtles through a student training program.

The Asian Turtle Program would like to thank all of our partner and donor organisations. If you would like to contribute to the ATP please visit our support page or contact us at [email protected]


Above: Wild Cuora mouhotii in Cuc Phuong National Park


Above: Indotestudo elongata seen in the trade in Central Vietnam



If you observe turtles, other wildlife or products made from wildlife in restaurants, markets, hotels, or elsewhere in Vietnam please contact ATP or Education for Nature (ENV) immediately

Call ENV's toll-free hotline number
1800 1522

Report the crime electronically by e-mailing [email protected]

or complete the ENV online report form

Alternatively, you can also contact ATP and we will forward your report to ENV and local authorities




NEW!!! May 2016 - Build the next generations to protect turtles

NEW!!! 21st April 2016 - Vietnamese scientists are collaborating with German experts to start the preservation by plasticisation of the Hoan Kiem Turtle (Rafetus swinhoei).

23rd March 2016 - Decision made on the preservation technique for the Hoan Kiem Turtle (Rafetus swinhoei)

16th February 2016 - Rescue of critical tortoise and freshwater turtles in Vietnam

1st February 2016 - Cuc Phuong National Park breeding success for the Vietnamese Pond Turtle in 2015

29th January 2016 - What next for the Hoan Kiem Turtle?

22nd January 2016 - Can the legend of Hoan Kiem Live On?

20th January 2016 - The death of the Hoan Kiem Turtle, Hanoi Vietnam - Farewell to a legend

The Asian Turtle Program's twelfth tortoise and freshwater turtle field skills development training course

25th November 2015 - Turtle talk held at Vietnam Forestry University inspires hundreds of future forest rangers 

23rd November 2015 - Filming season at the Turtle Conservation Centre (TCC) in Vietnam.

23rd November 2015 - X-raying Big Headed Turtles in Hanoi, Vietnam

November 2015 - The Asian Turtle Program honoured for their contributions to wildlife protection

4th October 2015 - Critical confiscation of highly endangered tortoises need help in Vietnam


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NEW!!! Turtle Bulletin. No. 235 - 20th May 2016

NEW!!! Turtle Bulletin. No. 234 - 13th May 2016

NEW!!! Turtle Bulletin. No. 233 - 6th May 2016

Turtle Bulletin. No. 232 - 29th April 2016

Turtle Bulletin. No. 231 - 22nd April 2016

Turtle Bulletin. No. 230 - 15th April 2016

Turtle Bulletin. No. 229 - 8th April 2016

Turtle Bulletin. No. 228 - 1st April 2016

Turtle Bulletin. No. 227 - 25th March 2016

Turtle Bulletin. No. 226 - 18th March 2016

Turtle Bulletin. No. 225 - 11th March 2016

Turtle Bulletin. No. 224 - 4th March 2016

Turtle Bulletin. No. 223 - 29th February 2016

Turtle Bulletin. No. 222 - 19th February 2016

Turtle Bulletin. No. 221 - 12th February 2016

Turtle Bulletin. No. 220 - 5th February 2016

Turtle Bulletin. No. 219 - 29th January 2016

Turtle Bulletin. No. 218 - 23rd January 2016

Turtle Bulletin. No. 217 - 15th January 2016

Turtle Bulletin. No. 216 - 8th January 2016

Turtle Bulletin. No. 215 - 1st January 2016


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Room#1806 CT1, C14 Bac Ha Building, To Huu Street, Nam Tu Liem District, Hanoi, Vietnam
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Phone:+84 (0)4 7302 8389
E-mail: [email protected]

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