Studying and monitoring turtles and tortoises in Xuan Lien Nature Reserve
The booming of wildlife poaching and trafficking lead to a serious declining for turtles and tortoises in Vietnam. Most of the species are now facing serious threats include extinction risk. Because of the trafficking, some species are now considered to be extinct in their former known ranges. Considered as one of the important biodiversity conservation area in northern Vietnam, Xuan Lien Nature Reserve (will be called as Xuan Lien hereafter) is home to many endemic and endangered species of wild fauna and flora. In particular, the dominant habitats of Xuan Lien are evergreen forest in the low-mountain and mixed bamboo forest, which are ideal habitats for many species of tortoise and turtles.
Continuing our collaboration with the Xuan Lien on conservation of turtles and tortoises in Xuan Lien Nature Reserve, in April 2021, a research team from Center for Nature Conservation and Development (CCD) and Xuan Lien conducted a field survey for turtles and tortoises in Hon Can and Song Khao. In this survey, the team not only focus on field survey but also piloting turtle monitoring using radio tracking equipment. The aim of the piloting was to test the equipment and gather experience to prepare a long-term monitoring for releasing of post-seizure turtles and tortoises.
In this survey, 02 Indochinese box turtles (Cuora galbinifrons), 01 Keeled box turtle (Cuora mouhotii) were spotted in Hon Can area, and 01 Four-eyed turtle (Sacalia quadriocellata) was spotted in Song Khao. All these turtles are listed as Critically Endangered and Endangered by Vietnam Red Data Book and the IUCN Red List. The team also attached transmitters to 03 turtles to track their movement patterns and evaluate the overall equipment effectiveness in the field. These survey results reconfirm the diversity of tortoises and turtles in Xuan Lien and radio tracking tool is working well with the reserve terrain and vegetation. However, during the survey time, the team also recorded some information that illegal poaching and trafficking of turtle and wildlife from the reserve by local community. Thus, to improve protection for wildlife and enhance local community’s responsibility for endangered wildlife, Xuan Lien should promote more field patrol, awareness campaigns in local villages to raise awareness and reduce poaching and trafficking.
CCD will continue our collaboration with Xuan Lien to implement the turtle surveys and use radio tracking to monitor and evaluate the habitat and viability of released turtles in the wild. CCD will also assist Xuan Lien to carry out more awareness-raising activities to raise awareness and reduce poaching and impacts of human activities on wildlife species in this important reserve.