The giant Swinhoe’s soft-shell turtle (Rafetus Swinhoe) is the most endangered turtle in the world, with only one known male currently living at the Suzhou zoo in China. Now hopes are rising that this precious species of turtle could be saved from the brink of extinction after conservationists discovered a female of his species in a lake outside of Hanoi, Vietnam.
To find the female Swinhoe’s soft-shell turtle, conservationists spent weeks looking for it in the 1,400-hectare Dong Mo lake near Hanoi. Specifically, the conservationists looked for the distinct, yellow and black pattern that adorns the turtle’s face. After being captured, the scientists performed genetic tests and confirmed that it is indeed a female Swinhoe’s soft-shell turtle. The Guardian reports that she is one meter long and was deemed healthy upon release back in the water.
“In a year full of bad news and sadness across the globe, the discovery of this female can offer all some hope that this species will be given another chance to survive,” said Hong Bich Thuy, country director for the Wildlife Conservation Society.
Now that the gender of the turtle has been confirmed, conservationists are working on a “clear plan on the next steps.” The conservationists believe there are at least one more of these turtles in Dong Mo lake and another in nearby Xuan Khanh lake as scientists have detected DNA in water samples.
Eventually, the conservationists aim to ensure at least one male and female are given a chance to breed in order to give this species a chance to return from near extinction.
Image source: WCS Vietnam