Hoan Kiem’s legendary turtle in trouble
  • | | February 23, 2011 01:56 PM

>> Does Hoan Kiem have two legendary turtles?

>> Hanoi sets up taskforce to save old turtle of Hoan Kiem

>> Experts discuss ways to save Hanoi’s legendary turtle

The condition of the rare soft shell turtle of Hoan Kiem Lake is getting worse as he awaits treatment.

Ha Hong, from Nhan Dan newspaper, a longtime observer of the lake, said the injuries have got more severe in the last several days. He formed this opinion after observing the turtle, or Cụ Rùa, on the surface for about one hour on the morning of February 22.

Cụ Rùa surfaces at 9:20 a.m on February 22 (photo by Ha Hong)

The grey lines on his back are more distinguishable, and the injury on his shell has spread, Hong said. “Comparing my own observations with other long-collected photos and documents, I can affirm that his condition has deteriorated.”

Professor Ha Dinh Duc, who has been doing research on the turtle for more than 20 years, and who is also a member of the newly formed task force to protect the legendary turtle, said that Cụ Rùa has had a confirmed 28 surfacings over the past 18 days. He says that this is a sign of health problems.

According to experts, in additional to the visible injuries, Cụ Rùa may also be suffering from pneumonia due to bacterial infection.

Phan Thi Van, from the Research Institute for Aquaculture, said the grey lines may be a result of old injuries that have become chronic. They may also be due to a fungal infection.

Recently, Hanoi set up a task force to protect the Cụ Rùa. Their priorities are to clean up the lake environment and to catch the red-eared turtles, an invasive species that poses a threat to the old soft-shell turtle. They will also repair dykes around the lake, prevent people from releasing red-eared turtles into the water and prevent large gatherings of spectators.

According to Director of the Hanoi Department of Science and Technology, Le Xuan Rao, the final strategy for the treatment of the Cụ Rùa will be decided in February.

Photos of red-eared turtles taken by Journalist Ha Hong on February 22:

Sunbathing on Tortoise Tower

The tower is a prime resting spot for red-eared turtles

Turtles going ashore

Releasing red-eared turtles into the lake

Basking in the sunlight

Red-eared turtles are numerous

Red-eared turtles climbing on water pipeline

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