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Hanoi Announces Plans to Protect Endangered Yangtze Turtles

Only four Yangtze giant softshell turtles remain in the world, with two in Hanoi and the remaining duo in Suzhou Zoo in Shanghai.

Following the death of the legendary Cu Rua in 2016, which some suggested was due to water pollution, it was believed that only three of the Rafetus swinhoei species remained, until a fourth was discovered in Hanoi’s Xuan Khanh Lake earlier this year.

A central part of the government’s new conservation plan includes attempting to locate other Yangtze turtles, VnExpress reports. The program will also ensure the safety of the two remaining turtles in Vietnam while aiming to find a way for the turtles to mate.

This study will be led by the Asian Turtle Program, the Central Institute for Natural Resources and Environmental Studies, and the Wildlife Conservation Society of Vietnam.

Found in northern Vietnam and southeast China, the Yangtze turtle population has rapidly declined in recent decades. Industrial developments like river dams have increasingly encroached on their natural habitat. Like most turtles, they have also been vulnerable to poachers who seek their skin, eggs and meat.

The Yangtze giant softshell turtle plays a central role in Vietnamese culture and history and can live for hundreds of years. Hoan Kiem Lake’s beloved Cu Rua was believed to be nearly 200 years old when she died.

[Photo via tumblr user sweet metazoa]

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