Some newspapers recently reported on a project to breed the old turtle in Hoan Kiem Lake. Ass. Prof. Ha Dinh Duc discussed this issue with Tien Phong newspaper.
The tortoise caught in Dong Mo Lake on November 26 2008.
Dan Tri and VNMedia recently noted that the Hoan Kiem turtle (Rafetus swinhoei) is one of the most famous and rarest species of tortoise in the world. There are only four in the world, including two in Vietnam: one in Hoan Kiem Lake and anther in Dong Mo Lake, plus two others in a Chinese zoo.
Tim McComack, an export from the Asian Tortoise Preservation Program, explained that the group is conducting research on the Dong Mo Lake turtle to breed more.
Nguyen Xuan Thuan, a member of the Asian Tortoise Preservation Programme took photo of a big turtle swimming in Dong Mo Lake in June 2007.
In April 2008, some international news wires reported that experts from the Cleveland Metroparks (USA) had discovered a Rafetus swinhoei tortoise in northern Vietnam.
But is the tortoise in Hoan Kiem Lake a Rafetus swinhoei?
According to Ass. Prof. Ha Dinh Duc, The Rafetus swinhoei species was discovered and described for the first time in 1873. The specimen is preserved at the London Museum of Nature in Britain.
The tortoise in Hoan Kiem Lake.
He revealed that, on April 16 2008, the Cleveland MetroPark Zoo claimed to have discovered a turtle in a western Hanoi lake belonging to the same species as the old turtle in Hoan Kiem Lake. The next day I was interviewed by international journalists and Saigon Giai Phong newspaper.
The professor stressed that “I think that this discovery is very meaningful for the preservation of giant turtles in Vietnam, but no one can conclude yet whether or not the tortoise in Dong Mo lake belongs to the same species with the old turtle in Hoan Kiem Lake.” He added that the Dong Mo turtle has many yellow spots and its head is different that that of the Hoan Kiem Lake tutle.
In November 2008, the tortoise in Hoan Kiem Lake was caught and I found that it is not part of the Rafetus swinhoei species. I described it as a new species in Archaeology Magazine, naming it Rafetus leloii.
The Hoan Kiem Lake tortoise is completely different from the one in Dong Mo Lake, and the professor asserted that it will be impossible to breed them.
Ass. Prof. Ha Dinh Duc
Association for Protection of Nature and Environment of Vietnam