Developing viable release strategies for rehabilitated and endangered big-headed turtles in Vietnam

Timeframe: 2018 - 2021
Country/Region: Vietnam
Partner: Zoological Society of London

In the 1990s, many Asian turtles experienced precipitous population declines leading to the Asian turtle crisis. These population declines have been driven by unsustainable harvesting to supply Chinese markets. This unsustainable trade was recognised by the IUCN as a significant threat to turtle survival.

Turtle harvesting remains at unsustainable levels and there is substantial need to develop regional in and ex-situ conservation efforts. The number of turtles seized by the local authorities is more than can be adequately housed in rescue centres.

This project implemented by Zoological Society of London and supported by Fondation Segré seeks to develop a conservation relevant viable release strategy for big-headed turtles currently housed in Vietnamese rescue centres and increase in-country capacity to undertake wildlife translocations following IUCN best practice guidelines, through the development of protocols that can be transferred to other taxa. In the long term, a viable turtle population will be established at the release sites. Moreover, there will be an immediate benefit to the welfare of the remaining turtles at the Turtle Conservation Centre as there will be fewer animals to take care of and resources will not be as stretched.