Thursday, January 07, 2021

Some good news for a change: there is hope for Swinhoe's softshell turtle

If you are depressed about this here pandemic and all the shenanigans going on in Washington DC, then a smidgen of good news might just cheer you up.

The good news starts with some bad news: Swinhoe's softshell turtle (also known as the Hoan Kiem turtle or the Yangste giant softshell turtle) is the most endangered turtle in the world, one of the most endangered animals in the world. Up until April 2019, there were just two of them left, a male and a female, living in Suzhou Zoo, near Shanghai, China. Then, the female, died of childbirth complications after last-ditch artificial insemination, following years of unsuccessful natural breeding attempts. It was thought that there was, then, just one animal left alive, with no chance of continuing the species.

Then, this last October, after months of searching, Vietnamese researchers discovered a female Swinhoe's softshell turtle in Dong Mo Lake in Vietnam, a healthy, 190lb giant in good condition and of breeding age. The animal was released back into its home lake for now, and is being closely monitored. It is thought that there may also be another turtle, a male, in the same lake, and possibly a third in nearby Xuan Khanh Lake.

The Swinhoe's softshell turtle is not out of the woods yet, so to speak. But there is now at least some hope for the species.

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