- December 21, 2020
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The Yangtze giant softshell turtle is undeniably a strange-looking god: its long flat carapace and squishy body make it look, at times, like â¦ On average, Trong sees the turtle about two to three times a month. âThey maintain it for, yes, future generations.â. In 2019, the worldâs rarest turtle suffered a staggering loss. The turtle has a little head, a beak akin to the snout of a pig, and dorsally placed eyes. However, the massive animals are not easy to catch. This means that although the team has deployed eDNA in other water bodies â and only gotten negatives â they still canât rule out other turtles. And now the giants he once hunted are nearly a thing of the past, more myth than reality. But with only three animals, can anything be done? And as humans destroyed the wetlands, largely for rice paddies, they routed the turtles even further. Image credit: Gerald Kuchling. They are virtually extinct in the wild, with the exception of one individual spotted in the Dong Mo Lake. Â About 20 kilometers (12 miles) northwest of Dong Mo sits another lake: Xuan Khanh, smaller and less picturesque than Dong Mo, but, as of 2018, the known home to another Yangtze giant softshell turtle. There are more than 100 species of animals in the Suzhou Zoo, 54 percent of which are endangered. Softshell turtles can live very long. According to many biologists, turtles are in trouble. The animal, at Suzhou Zoo in southern China, was the last known female Yangtze giant softshell turtle in the world. The world's rarest turtle has moved a step closer to extinction after a female specimen died in a Chinese zoo, leaving behind just three known members of the species. "Yangtze Giant Softshell Turtle Facts." The female's death came a day after zoo officials â¦ The captive male, in China, may be incapable of breeding. Due to their large size and skin, people have hunted them as a source of food and as an ingredient in traditional medicine. Just one nest would give the species a chance. McCormack and his team believe that Yangtze giant softshell turtles, as the name suggests, arenât really lake turtles; theyâre river and wetland turtles. The animal was one of four Yangtze giant softshell turtles known to be remaining in the world. The two extant species, the Yangtze giant softshell (Rafetus swinhoei) and the Asian giant softshell (Pelochelys cantorii), are among the largest and rarest freshwater turtles in the world (1â3). Our EIN or tax ID is 45-3714703. A male Rafetus swinhoei (also known as Yangtze giant softshell turtle) is seen after being collected sperm at Suzhou Zoo, May 6, 2015, in Suzhou, Jiangsu province of China. But eDNA has its limits in the search for more turtles: McCormack says the technology is not the âsilver bulletâ theyâd hoped. It doesnât during our short visit, but thatâs to be expected of this shy god. The adult can grow a shell larger than 1 meter in length and weigh over 100 kg. With just one healthy pair, and a bit of luck, the global population could go from three to more than 50 in 12 monthsâ time. Gratitude in the workplace: How gratitude can improve your well-being and relationships We just need to find the survivors, catch them, and bring a breeding pair together, before the situation really becomes too late. In their natural habitat, the turtles probably migrated through the rivers and nested on sandbanks in wetlands. But increasingly, hooks and lines were used as an easier, less perilous option. After our interview, Hoanh shows us the long spears used to kill the giant turtles, and the nets, deployed with hundreds of sharp curved hooks, deployed to entrap them. In 2019, the Swinhoe Softshell Turtle, also known as the Yangtze giant softshell turtle among other names, suffered a major loss despite all conservation efforts. The recent death of the last known surviving female Yangtze giant soft shell turtle (Rafetus swinhoei) means that the species is now walking into the sunset.According to media reports, the female died after a failed artificial insemination in Suzhou Shangfangshan Forest Zoo in eastern China's Jiangsu Province on April 12, 2019.She was 90 years-old. What is visual communication and why it matters; Nov. 20, 2020. The animal was one of only four Yangtze giant softshell turtles known to remain in the world. She is about 80 years old and weighs almost 90 pounds. Most of the money currently comes from grants and zoos, especially Cleveland Metroparks Zoo in the U.S. The worldâs last known female Yangtze giant softshell turtle (seen here in 2015) died at Chinaâs Suzhou Zoo this weekend, leaving only 3 individuals of the species left on Earth. R. swinhoei is also the largest species of freshwater turtle in the world; it’s been recorded to reach sizes of over 39 inches in length and 28 inches in width and has a lifespan of up to 100 years in the wild. A female turtle perished after an insemination procedure leaving her mate at a zoo in China alone. Endangered Giant – The critically endangered Yangtze giant softshell turtle is one of the largest freshwater turtle species in the world, weighing in at a massive 220 lbs! Yangtze giant softshell turtles are part of class Reptilia and can be found in wetlands and large lakes in Asia. He was born under French rule; Japanese occupation came next. Attempts to breed the male and female residing in Chinaâs Suzhou Zoo since their introduction in 2008 have all been unsuccessful. With only three known animals still alive, time is of the essence. Yangtze giant softshell turtles, also called red river turtles, are the largest freshwater turtle species in the world. We take a boat onto the lake, heading toward a large island. The Yangtze giant softshell turtle is the largest freshwater turtle in the world, and it can grow to 100cm (39in) and weigh up to 100kg (nearly 16 stone). As I listen, I think about how Hoanhâs stories resemble those of mythic dragon hunters or 19th-century whalers: a kind of struggle of man versus beast, a sprinkle of legend. In September 2011 the IUCN declared the extinction of the Yangtze Softhshell Turtle in Vietnam. It has a long neck, capable of periscoping like an otter, a mottled snout, goggly eyes, and a pig nose â its countenance not unlike an alien out of Star Wars. In the 1940s, Hoanh says, the Red River broke its banks, sending many Yangtze giant softshell turtles into Dong Mo Lake, where they were for a short time as common as âchickens in the garden.â Nearly all of these animals were caught as food for the village, often eaten with rice wine. Common Health Concerns. The animal was one of only four Yangtze giant softshell turtles known to remain in the world. Chinaâs last female Yangtze giant softshell turtle died over the weekend at the Suzhou Zoo. Over a hunting career that spanned around six decades, Hoanh says he caught six large turtles in Suoi Hai Lake and 17 in the Dam Long wetlands. These turtles are the largest freshwater turtle in the world, but they are also on the brink of extinction. These turtles are gray with light gray or yellow spots. Swinhoe’s Giant Asian Softshell Turtle (China and Vietnam) Swinhoe’s Giant Asian Softshell Turtle (Rafetus swinhoei) is one of the largest freshwater turtles in the world, reaching up to 260 pounds.Only four known individuals of this species exist, including a male in captivity in China at the Suzhou Zoo, and three individuals in different lakes in Vietnam. She was put under anesthesia during a fifth attempt to artificially inseminate her, a procedure that people hoped would help … If other turtles are found, they could be brought to the same site. To date, there is no facility built for this, but McCormack says a number of sites are being considered, including the island on Dong Mo. However, according to a survey conducted between 2013 and 2015, the last wild individual is reported to reside in Madushan Reservoir located along the Red River below Honghe in Yunnan Province, China. Suzhou Zoo, where the female turtle lived, is also the home to a male Yangtze giant softshell turtle. I ask Hoanh, via the translator, what the giant tastes like? Vietnam has changed much since Hoang was a child. The Yangtze giant softshell turtle, the largest freshwater turtle in the world, grows to 100cm (39in) and weighs up to 100kg (nearly 16 stone). With his long spear and a net flanked in cruel hooks, Hoanh was known for decades in his little village as an able hunter of the Yangtze giant softshell turtle (Rafetus swinhoei). Scientists have determined that the largest threats to these turtles are hunting for meat and medicine, as well as pollution in their natural habitats and downstream habitat destruction after the construction of the Madushan Hydropower Dam in 2007. Hoanh looks spry and healthy for an octogenarian, speaking animatedly in Vietnamese. There are over 100 endangered turtles currently in the world with more being added as time goes on. Traditionally, the Yangtze giant softshell turtle inhabited the Yangtze River and Lake Tai, along with other areas in China and Vietnam. Suzhou Zoo, where the female turtle lived, is also the home to a male Yangtze giant softshell turtle. They used to be abundant in the Red River of China, Vietnam, and the lower Yangtze River floodplain. 3 Minute Read By Jason Bittel It is also the rarest. [clarification needed] to be among the largest extant freshwater turtles. Hoanh describes them as âvery fast,â telling us how during one escapade a turtle managed to capsize the boat of hunters and escape. Expect them to live to be 50 years at least, giant softshell turtles can lie to be 150 years! No one knows what happened to it. Yangtze giant softshell turtles are designated as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). As you can see, they can be a big responsibility. He says a female can lay 30 to 40 eggs in one clutch, and more than one clutch a year. While the last turtle god of Hoan Kiem perished in 2016 (âIt was like losing part of our culture,â Hoang Van Ha, a conservationist with the Asian Turtle Program, or ATP, told The New Yorker), the species is not wholly gone â just almost. Bailey, Regina. Currently, he says, the most likely plan would be to attempt breeding in a captive situation but on site. The story goes something like this: Kim Quiâs master, a deity called the Dragon King, gave Emperor LÃª Lá»£i his legendary sword, known as âHeavenâs Will.â With it, LÃª Lá»£i freed Vietnam from a thousand-year rule by the Chinese. The Yangtze giant softshell turtle is undeniably a strange-looking god: its long flat carapace and squishy body make it look, at times, like rolled-out, forest-green dough, the biggest weighing a stunning 150 to 220 kg (330 to 485 lb). In Vietnam, these animals have great cultural significance as people in Hanoi revere this creature as a living god. Bailey, Regina. The Yangtze giant softshell turtle is the largest freshwater turtle in the world, growing to 100 cm (39 inches) long and weighing up to 100kg (220 pounds). The Asian giant softshell turtle (Pelochelys cantorii), also known as Cantor's giant softshell turtle and the frog-faced softshell turtle, is a species of freshwater turtle in the family Trionychidae.The species is native to Southeast Asia.It has been considered [by whom?] Along with the ATP, the current proposal involves numerous conservation groups, including the Wildlife Conservation Society, Global Wildlife Conservation, Turtle Survival Alliance, Indo-Myanmar Conservation, the Hanoi University of Science, and, of course, Vietnamese officials. The main threat is hunting for the use in the Chinese traditional medicines and habitat destruction. This critically-endangered species was down to only ONE known individual, a male, after the last known female in the world passed away in 2019. If you look at tiger conservation or elephant, you’re talking about millions of dollars being put into it. The Asian giant softshell turtle (Pelochelys cantorii), also known as Cantor's giant softshell turtle and the frog-faced softshell turtle, is a species of freshwater turtle in the family Trionychidae.The species is native to Southeast Asia.It has been considered [by whom?] After his success, he was approached by Kim Qui, who asked for the sword back for the Dragon King. A few healthy animals could lead to a population in the hundreds in just a few years. âIf he goes to work and he doesn’t see it that day, sometimes he feel a bit sad â which turns out to be many days,â the translator tells me. Today, scientists know for sure of three animals: one in captivity (male) and two in the wild (sex unknown), but not inhabiting the same lake. He responds with, âIt tastes just like soft-shelled turtle.â. She was believed to be over 90 years old at the time of her death. Regina Bailey is a board-certified registered nurse, science writer and educator. The survival rate for eggs and juveniles is very low, but survival increases dramatically for subadults and adults. The Yangtze giant softshell turtle is the largest freshwater turtle in the world, growing to 39 inches (100 cm) long and weighing up to 220 pounds (100kg). But the story of the turtle god, Kim Qui, doesnât have to end here. After the 2019 loss of the last confirmed female Swinhoe Softshell Turtle in China, extinction was all but confirmed. The confirmation of one female could make all the difference. The female Yangtze giant soft shell turtle is reported to have died on Saturday, April 13 at China’s Suzhou Shangfangshan Forest Zoo. A conservation miracle for the world’s most endangered turtle! There are two next steps: one is to figure out the sex of the two turtles in the lakes. Hoanh, growing up in the 1930s, learned how to hunt the turtles from his father and grandfather. The Yangtze giant softshell turtle is the largest freshwater turtle in the world, growing to 100 cm (39 inches) long and weighing up to 100kg (220 pounds). âThis is when people started realizing they were rare,â McCormack adds. These water bodies may be suboptimal habitat â we donât know â but theyâve certainly made it impossible for turtles in different lakes to meet and mate. It is also the rarest. Trong tells me via a translator that he remembers many turtles in the area when he was very young. After a short ride, we reach the island and meet Nguyen Van Trong. âAll the people in the village and all the fishermen now know this Rafetus species in here [and] very rare. A female Yangtze Giant Softshell Turtle (Rafetus swinhoei) has been discovered in Vietnam! ThoughtCo. Yangtze soft-shell turtles are the largest freshwater turtle species in the world, and they have tiny pig-like snouts and large smooth shells. Survivors probably succumbed to hunters. Endangered Turtles. Phuongcacanh at Vietnamese Wikipedia / Wikimedia Commons / CC Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported. And McCormack suspects others may still be hiding in Vietnamese lakes and rivers, and maybe even across the border in Laos. The Yangtze Giant Softshell Turtle is a critically endangered softshell turtle found in China. In his sixties and a former fisherman, Trong is now a full-time turtle watcher. Her work has been featured in "Kaplan AP Biology" and "The Internet for Cellular and Molecular Biologists. These turtles have slow growth, late maturity, and long life spans of upwards of 100 years. If the villagers donât see it for a few months, McCormack says, âthey start to worry.â. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/yangtze-giant-softshell-turtle-4772225. Yangtze soft-shell turtles are the largest freshwater turtle species in the world, and they have tiny pig-like snouts and large smooth shells. This would allow conservationists and veterinarians the ability to closely monitor the process, but keep the animals out of the public eye (unlike, say, at a zoo) and allow the staff to use local water from the lakes. Established in 1964, the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species has evolved to become the world’s most comprehensive information source on the global conservation status of animal, fungi and plant species. Instead of going out on a boat, we talk a short walk, in the heat of the afternoon, around a small portion of Xuan Khanh, within sight of where the turtle mostly resides. The death of the last known female Yangtze giant softshell turtle has pushed scientists to search for wild specimens in China and Vietnam. Established in 1964, the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species has evolved to become the worldâs most comprehensive information source on the global conservation status of â¦ Yangtze giant softshell turtles produce between 20 and 80 eggs every year, of which only a few ever reach maturity. According to the BBC , the species’ numbers dwindled due to habitat loss, overfishing, and hunting. At the same time the turtle population crashed. The only known female died in captivity in April of last year, making the search for another female paramount. Until this year a male Swinhoe's softshell turtle living at Suzhou Zoo in China was thought to be the last of its kind. A giant soft-shell turtle considered a sacred symbol of Vietnamese independence ... Vietnam's Yangtze giant softshell turtle dies plunging ... but jokes her zipper was 'holding on for dear life' He estimates the last animal he tried to hunt weighed 400 kg (880 lb) â almost twice the size of any known Yangtze softshell turtle. In fact, more than half of all turtle species have at least a threatened conservation status. We head up the island and visit a recently constructed bamboo hut for Trongâs convenience, so he has a shelter to sit in while watching for the turtle of Dong Mo to make its appearances. But genetic testing has confirmed that an animal found in Dong Mo Lake in Vietnam in October is a female of the same species - Rafetus swinhoei - which is also known as the Yangtze giant softshell turtle. The Yangtze giant softshell turtle is one of the world's largest known freshwater turtle species, and one of the world's 50 most threatened turtles. So do its elephants, Activists in Malaysia call on road planners to learn the lessons of history. There was the rise of Ho Chi Minh, the fall of France, and the Vietnam War (when Hoang was in his forties), or as they call it here, the American War. Softshell Turtle’s Lifespan. Scientists think it is because the male sustained severe damage to its shell and reproductive organs in a fight with another male years ago. The Yangtze giant softshell turtle is the largest freshwater turtle in the world, growing to 39 inches (100 cm) long and weighing up to 220 pounds (100kg). One male and one female were held in Chinaâs Suzhou Zoo, but the female died in April 2019. As people built dams, dumped pollution and overfished East Asiaâs great waterways, we killed the once great river turtles off. If this happens, big decisions would have to be made: whether breeding should be attempted in the wild or in captivity. As in Dong Mo, no turtle god appears, but according to DNA, at least, itâs there, just below the surface. Hoang caught his last turtle in the 1990s and sold it to a tourism company. In 2019, the Swinhoe Softshell Turtle, also known as the Yangtze giant softshell turtle among other names, suffered a major loss despite all conservation efforts. Nov. 21, 2020. Their life span is recorded to reach 400 years, while the dead female was believed to be over 90 years old and fertile. They have retractable necks and three claws on each front foot. Hoping her potential offspring would carry on the [â¦] The death of the last known female Yangtze giant softshell turtle has pushed scientists to search for wild specimens in China and Vietnam. Yangtze giant softshell turtles are one of the biggest freshwater turtles on Earth. Historically, they inhabited the Yangtze River in China and the Red River in both China and Vietnam, as well as adjacent wetlands. However, due to global warming and poaching, their numbers have dramatically reduced, whittling them down to disastrous levels, reports the National Geographic. A combination of hunting, environmental degradation, and rampant development has brought the Yangtze giant softshell to the existential brink. But to build a facility, McCormack says, âwe need a lot more funding.â. ... aquatic life in â¦ Breeding areas for these turtles, which include sandbars, have turned into steep slopes that make it impossible for these turtles to breed in the wild. Despite the female being relatively young and reliably producing eggs, her eggs all remained infertile. ThoughtCo, Aug. 28, 2020, thoughtco.com/yangtze-giant-softshell-turtle-4772225. But in this case, the beast in question is already heading toward possible extinction. These turtles have slow growth, late maturity, and long life spans of upwards of 100 years. With the presence of conservationists here, the villagers have come to see the animal as one of their own. For these species, thereâs very little in comparison.â. With only three known individuals still alive, the Yangtze giant softshell turtle (Rafetus swinhoei) is the most endangered species of turtle in the world. He says thereâs still a chance to save this species â if we act quickly. Just an hour outside Hanoiâs bustles lies quiet Dong Mo Lake, a scenic, sprawling body of water in the shadow of the heavily forested Ba Vi Mountain. Mongabay is a U.S.-based non-profit conservation and environmental science news platform. Mongabay Series: Saving Life on Earth: Words on the Wild. McCormack believes that when the dams were built, several turtles became stranded in lakes and reservoirs like Dong Mo. Several turtles became stranded in lakes and reservoirs like Dong Mo Lake near Hanoi to any! Washington 1 January 2021 • 7:13pm a Swinhoe 's softshell turtle living in a captive situation but site!, learned how to hunt the turtles from his father and grandfather lives here other two live in Vietnam to. Goes on known—gets a checkup in Hanoi revere this creature as a whole are yangtze giant softshell turtle lifespan unique group reptiles! 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