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Danko Group funds project to protect Hoan Kiem turtles

Danko Group, a real estate group, has donated 1 billion VND (over 43,000 USD)  to the Asian Turtle Programme (ATP) under the  Indo-Myanmar Conservation (IMC) to promote the conservation of Hoan Kiem turtles (Rafetus swinhoei) in the world, including those in Vietnam.

In 2012, scientists placed Hoan Kiem turtle on the list of 100 rarest animal species in the world and a unique turtle species, only existing in Asia.

After the giant Hoan Kiem turtle died in Hanoi’s Hoan Kiem Lake in 2016 and the Hoan Kiem turtle in Suzhou Zoo in China died in 2019, the world officially recorded only three individuals, including one male turtle at Suzhou Zoo of China, and two in Vietnam - one in Xuan Khanh Lake and one in Dong Mo Lake in Hanoi.

In addition to the significance for conservation, the Hoan Kiem turtle has long been associated with the cultural and spiritual life of Hanoians in particular and the Vietnamese people in general. This species of turtle lived in Hoan Kiem Lake for a long period of history, linked with the legend of national hero Le Loi (1385 – 1433).

ATP has been working to conserve the world's rarest turtle species. The most important achievement was the discovery and conservation of two Hoan Kiem turtles in Dong Mo and Xuan Khanh lakes.

ATP was established in 1998 and incorporated into the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo/Cleveland Zoological Society’s Asia regional programme in 2003.

Since the ATP originated with the development of the Turtle Conservation Centre (TCC) at Cuc Phuong National Park together with the local non-governmental organisation - Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV), ATP has been working on the conservation of tortoises and freshwater turtles (TFT) in Southeast Asia. Much of its work in the last 20 years has been focused in Vietnam, where, of the 26 confirmed species here, six are listed as Vulnerable, nine are Endangered and seven are Critically Endangered, according to IUCN’s Red List (2019).

ATP has concentrated its efforts on Vietnam’s priority species including those which are critically endangered or endemic, such as the endemic Vietnamese Pond Turtle (Mauremys annamensis), the Box Turtles of central Vietnam - Cuora bourreti and Cuora picturata, and the legendary Hoan Kiem Turtle (Rafetus swinhoei), also known as Swinhoe’s Softshell Turtle, in northern Vietnam, largely recognised as the most endangered turtle species in the world./.