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Vietnam Open to Collaborating With China to Save ‘Hoan Kiem Turtles’

The collaboration might be the only way to save a species facing extinction.

First proposed by China at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in May, the collaboration is a “great and practical opportunity for breeding and protecting” Vietnam’s sacred turtle species, claims Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, VnExpress reports.

Many scientists and non-governmental organizations also support the proposal. Hoang Van Ha, from the Asian Turtle Program (ATP), asserted that breeding is of utmost importance.

"In order to breed the species, Vietnam first needs to determine the sexes of the turtles in Dong Mo and Xuan Khanh. If there is a male, then it can be matched with the female one in China," Ha told the news source.

The Hoan Kiem turtle, or Rafetus swinhoei, is the world’s rarest taxon of turtle, reports VnExpress. In addition to the two in Vietnam’s Dong Mo and Xuan Khanh Lakes, only one other male and female remain in the world, in China’s Suzhou Zoo. Previous breeding attempts revealed that the male was infertile.

In January 2016, the death of the last turtle in Hoan Kiem Lake, which Vietnamese endearingly named Cụ Rùa (Great-Grandfather Turtle), was perceived as a terrible omen and Rafetus swinhoei is now listed by CITES as one of Vietnam’s most endangered species.

[Photo via tumblr user sweet metazoa]

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