Rare Vietnamese turtles bred in Europe arrive home

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Photos courtesy of Tuoi Tre

Seventy one endangered Vietnamese pond turtles native to the central region
arrived at the Cuc Phuong National Park from European zoos Monday in Vietnam's largest-ever shipment of turtles raised overseas. 

They were initially bred at the Allwetterzoo Münster in Germany and Rotterdam Zoo in the Netherlands more than five years ago, Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reported the same day.

The turtles, also known as Annam leaf turtles, will be raised together with more than 200 others of the same species, which have been seized from illegal traders, gifted by people or born at the park's Turtle Conservation Center.

They will finally be released to their most suitable natural environment in the central province of Quang Ngai after they can adapt to it.

Vietnamese pond turtles Mauremys annamensis nearly disappeared in the wild from the late 1980s due to hunting and trading to satisfy demands on the Vietnamese and Chinese markets for food and medical treatment.

They are listed in the Intertional Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species and Vietnamese Red Book as "critically endangered."

The turtles, whose habitat is limited to wetlands in Da Nang city and Binh Dinh, Phu Yen, Quang Nam, and Quang Ngai provinces, are protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) as well as Vietnamese laws.

The 178-member CITES bans their commercial trade, while Vietnamese law limits their exploitation, use, and trade.

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