Hanoi to conserve world’s rarest lake turtle

The city government has unveiled breeding and habitat protection plans for the Rafetus swinhoei, or Hoan Kiem (Sword Lake) turtle, an all but extinct soft-shell species.

At least one each is known to live in Xuan Khanh and Dong Mo Lakes in the capital’s Son Tay Town.

The amphibian is revered in Vietnam.

Under the project Hanoi will investigate the numbers and sexes of Hoan Kiem turtles in the two lakes and consider measures to protect their habitats and enable their mating.

Funds for the conservation program are replenished annually from the city’s coffers and other sources.

Many scientists have approved the study of turtles at Xuan Khanh Lake and their mating with the Dong Mo Lake turtle if conditions permit, preventing the impending extinction of the species.

The study, which involves collecting and studying genetic samples to search for other Hoan Kiem turtles outside their natural habitats, was initiated by the Asian Turtle Program, the Central Institute for Natural Resources And Environmental Studies and the Wildlife Conservation Society Vietnam.

It was begun in May this year and will resume next December.

The Hoan Kiem turtle is named after the lake in the heart of the capital, where, according to legend, a magical sword was returned to the Golden Turtle God after helping fight off a Chinese invasion in the 15th century.

It is listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as critically endangered. The creature is also on the list of rare and endangered animals requiring urgent conservation efforts under the Vietnamese government decree in 2013.

An ancient turtle that lived in Hoan Kiem Lake died in 2016.

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