The discovery is an opportunity for the survival of the species, researchers claim, as DNA findings indicate that the turtle found in the district of Hanoi is a softshell turtle from Swinhoe.
After the discovery in Vietnam of a female of the species, the last known male Swinhoe giant tortoise is no longer alone on the planet. The female, weighing 86 kg (13 stones), was found in Dong Mo Lake in the Son Tay district of Hanoi and captured in October for genetic testing. DNA studies have now established that the animal is the world’s most endangered turtle species, the soft-shelled turtle (Rafetus swinhoei). Another turtle has been spotted in the lake, estimated to weigh 130 kg, and conservationists hope it’s another male. At the Suzhou Zoo in China, the only confirmed male Swinhoe soft-shelled turtle is.
By hunting for meat and eggs and habitat destruction, the species, also known as the Hoan Kiem tortoise or Yangtze giant soft-shelled turtle, has been pushed to the brink of extinction. “This is the best news of the year and possibly the last decade for global turtle conservation,” said Andrew Walde of the Turtle Survival Alliance, which advised the Vietnamese government on the conservation initiative. “In a year filled with bad news and sadness around the world, the discovery of this female can give everyone some hope that this species will have another chance to survive. “In 2013, in Vietnam, Swinhoe’s softshell turtle was granted legal protection. Hoang said, adding that many of the turtles were also hunted to export to China, “Before that time, the meat of a captured turtle was shared with the whole family, relatives and neighborhood,” “Their eggs were also collected and soaked in salt, as locals believed that salted turtle eggs help against diarrhea. “In the 1,400-hectare Dong Mo Lake, conservationists spent weeks looking for the female turtle.
She is one meter long and was captured for a day so that blood samples were taken and she could be tested. The team hopes to catch the second, larger turtle sighted in the same lake in the spring of 2021, as the water level is at its lowest at that time. As scientists have found DNA in water samples, there could also be a turtle in nearby Xuan Khanh Lake. The last female identified before the discovery of Vietnam died in April 2019.
She was mated to the male in Suzhou in 2008, but she inevitably failed to bear offspring.
Attempts were made to inseminate her artificially, but the female did not recover from anesthesia, although similar anesthetic procedures had previously been safely performed. Timothy McCormack, director of the Asian Turtle Program for Indo-Myanmar Conservation, said, “Once we know the sex of the animals in Vietnam, we can make a clear plan for next steps. ” The late WCS herpetologist John Behler is quoted on the first page of the study as saying, “Turtles saw the great dinosaurs come and go and now face their own extinction crisis. “Freshwater animals are the hardest hit by human invasion: since 1970, the average population size has decreased 84 percent, partially due to the immense thirst for agriculture and vast numbers of dams.