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Student interview survey in Bac Giang province, northern Vietnam following the tortoise and freshwater turtle field skill training course

Shortly after the 9 th annual Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Field Skill Training Course held in March 2012, field surveys were completed in Bac Giang Province, Northern Vietnam. From the 16 th – 26 th of April 2012 the Asian Turtle Program (ATP) supported an interview survey conducted in all 10 districts of Bac Giang Province by Loc Vuong Ngoc, a student from Bac Giang Agriculture & Forestry University (BAFU). Ngoc had participated in the March training course held by the ATP and Turtle Conservation Centre (TCC) of Cuc Phuong National Park. During the survey, 94 interviews were conducted and 28 turtles of nine species were documented.

The survey also hoped to hear information about the critically endangered Swinhoe's Softshell Turtle (Rafetus swinhoei), a focal species of conservation by the ATP. However, the only information collected was historical, with, some individuals near Bo Lac Lake, Luc Ngan district reporting seeing ‘Giai', the local name often used for Rafetus, weighing 100's of kg but over 40 years ago.

Most notably, specimens of the critically endangered Indochinese Box Turtles (Cuora galbinifrons) and a Chinese Three-striped Box Turtle shell (Cuora trifasciata) were seen. Other endangered turtles such as the Keeled Box Turtles (Cuora mouhotii), Elongated Tortoises (Indotestudo elongata), Four-Eyed Turtle (Sacalia quadriocellata), and Black Breasted Leaf Turtle (Geoemyda spengleri) were also observed during the survey indicating the province does have high species diversity. With Son Dong and Luc Nam districts near Tay Yen Tu Nature Reserve had some of the best remaining habitat, this was also where most of the turtles were observed.

However, six of the Cuora mouhotii found were burnt remains from an area of forest that had been cleared for monoculture plantation forest. This highlights the continued threat to many of Vietnam's tortoise and turtle species from ongoing deforestation. Even while conducting the survey, the team still saw areas of forest being burned daily in the province.

Findings from the survey provided some of the most detailed information on tortoises and freshwater turtles in the province. While Ngoc, the student researcher, gained valuable experience conducting surveys and collecting data that he can now use to complete his thesis. Clearly illustrates the impact that the Field Training Course on Vietnamese students in the field of conservation.

Survey by:
Pham Van Thong – Field Officer, Asian Turtle Program (ATP)
Loc Vuong Ngoc – Student, Bac Giang Agriculture & Forestry University (BAFU)

Press release by: Pham Van Thong – Asian Turtle Program (ATP)

Date: 31st April 2012


Download this press release PDF here: English


Above: Student Loc Vuong Ngoc showing ID photos to an interviewee in Luc Ngan district, Bac Giang province


Above: Burnt remains of Cuora mouhotii that were most likely killed during forest clearance in Nam Duong commune, Luc Nam district, Bac Giang Province. Remains of six animals were observed

Above: A Cuora trifasciata shell kept as decoration and sometimes use as traditional medicine seen in the buffer zone of Tay Yen Tu Natural reserve, Son Dong district


Above: Apparently many “Rua truc” meaning bamboo turtle (Geoemyda spengleri) were caught and sold as pets for tourists in Tay Yen Tu nature reserve in Sơn Dong district

Above: Mr. Do Han (left) owner of two Indotestudo elongata that he has kept as pets for 21 years in Yen Dung district, Bac Giang province


Thank you:


We would like to thank Ocean Park Conservation Foundation (OPCF), Hong Kong, the Turtle Conservation Fund (TCF) and Wade Foundation for supporting this field survey. Also Loc Vuong Ngoc from Bac Giang Agriculture & Forestry University (BAFU) for his hard work and Bac Giang Province for supporting the survey.

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For more information please contact:

Asian Turtle Program (ATP) of Cleveland Metoparks Zoo,
Office: Room#1302, Thanh Cong Tower, 57 Lang Ha Street,
Ba Dinh, Hanoi, Vietnam

Tel: +84 (0) 4 3514 9750
Fax: +84 (0) 4 3519 0383




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