The Yangtze giant soft-shell turtle is on the brink of extinction. Having been washed ashore, the last known female of the species was discovered ashore, dead in Vietnam at Dong Mo Lake.
The turtle measured 156 cm and had a weight of 93 kg. In order to verify its identity, a genetic test would be conducted by the local officials, but it was almost certainly the last known female.
The Asian Turtle Program for Indo-Myanmar Conservation has shared the potential of the turtle to lay 100 eggs or more a year. Owing to its extreme value, the species has been under extreme pressure from exploitation for consumption and targeted capture attempts in recent years.
The species have been affected by habitat loss through conversion, drainage, fragmentation, pollution of wetlands and riparian habitats, hydroelectric barrages, and sand mining. The discovery of the female turtle in January 2021 has raised hopes that the species could be saved from extinction.
The rising levels of pollution as well as decades of hunting for its meat and eggs have driven the reptile to the brink of disappearance. Another Yangtze giant female softshell turtle died in 2018 amid breeding efforts at the Suzhou Zoo in China.
Attempts by staff for many years to get the pair of turtles at the zoo to reproduce naturally failed. After Sunday’s discovery, only two known reptiles remain: one in Suzhou Zoo in China and another in Hanoi’s Xuan Khanna Lake.
Another Yangtze giant softshell turtle may be living in Dong Mo Lake, according to the Asian Turtle Program. The conservationists need not give up hope about the species yet. The scientists have identified a female caught with efforts.
The Hoan Kiem turtle in Vietnam holds great spiritual importance. A sword was gifted to Emperor Le Loi by a turtle in Hoan Kiem Lake, which he used to vanquish occupying Chinese forces, according to Vietnamese mythology.
Due to the turtle’s natural habitat overlapping with the story’s location, the cultural significance of the species has been elevated in the eyes of Vietnamese. In recent years, the species has become a revered creature due to its rare sightings.
There is a need to capture and identify the male Rafetus swinhoei a.k.a Yangtze Giant Soft-Shell Turtle in Hanoi’s Xuan Khanh Lake. Although the loss of the large female turtle is very sad, there may still be hope for the species.