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Hoan Kiem Turtle

Was having lunch at a cafe by Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi (see Lake Hoan Kiem) and I saw a lot of people crowding around the bank.  I went over to see what was going on, and - I saw the Hoan Kiem turtle!! To put this in context, this is a bit like seeing the Loch Ness monster. A dead Rafetus leloii was recovered from the lake in 1967 weighing 440 kg and measuring 1.9 m, and it was unclear if there was another turtle in the lake or not. There have been periodic turtle sightings in Hoan Kiem over the past ten years, however, and it is generally thought that there is one last Rafetus leloii turtle still in the lake. One in Hoan Kiem Lake, and two in zoos in China. And these, apparently, are the last three individuals left of this species. Sigh.  I am humbled to have seen one of the three this afternoon.

UPDATE: The Rafetus leloii specimen found in the lake 1967 is on display at the Ngoc Son temple. This is a big turtle.

Reader Comments (2)

This is a distinct species , absolutely nothing to do with with the chinese Shanghai turtle as believed by a lot of misinformed people including scientists. The latest DNA test done ( 9/4/2011) showed it is a new species as long confirmed by a famous Vietnamese professor ( Ha Dinh Duc). How can a temperate medium sized turtle 2000km away can be the same species as a giant one with a limited and tropical distribution ? If you can see both of them , it look like telling a Saint Bernard is the same dog as a whippet. Latest info is here in Vietnamese

April 9, 2011 | Unregistered Commenternai langthang

Thanks for this clarification. What is a whippet?

April 24, 2011 | Registered Commenter[chuck]

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