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Cheng, W., Jian, W., & Zhou, T. , The status of rafetus swinhoei in yunnan. Paper presented at Turtle Survival Alliance 2007 Annual Meeting. 
Added by: Admin (13 Dec 2008 22:23:37 UTC)
Resource type: Proceedings Article
BibTeX citation key: Cheng2007
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Categories: General
Keywords: Chelonia, Cheloniidae, Habitat = habitat, Pelochelys, Rafetus, Rafetus swinhoei, Schildkröten = turtles + tortoises, Südostasien = South East Asia, Trionychidae
Creators: Cheng, Jian, Zhou
Collection: Turtle Survival Alliance 2007 Annual Meeting
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The status of Rafetus swinhoei was investigated in Feb.’2007 around the drainage areas of the Red River, southeastern Yunnan. It was found that until the late 1990s, giant Rafetus swinhoei individuals still existed. It is still possible to find young ones in the market within recent years. The last handful of wild rafetus swinhoei is highly endangered. More surveys and investigations are suggested. Rafetus swinhoei is a critically endangered species which dwells in the great rivers of eastern Asia, such as the River Yangtze, the Red River and the River Song Ma. When it was christened by Gray in 1873, few scientists could relate the tiny and brilliantly spotted specimens collected in Shanghai to the giant soft-shell turtles roaming in the lower drainage areas of Yangtze. In the 1990s, Prof. Zhao Kentang, of the Suzhou College of Science and Technology, identified 2 huge soft-shell turtles specimens donated by the Suzhou Zoo as Rafetus swinhoei according to their unique callose structure. Consequently, he is the first Chinese academician who clarified the confusion between Rafetus swinhoei and Pelochelys cantori as well as who paid great attention to the endangered status of this species. At present, only four live Rafetus survive in captivity in China. Three of them are in Suzhou, the other one is in the Changsha Zoo, recently identified by Lu Shunqing of WCS-China. All four animals are rather old and huge individuals from the lower Yangtze. The only known live Rafetus swinhoei out of China is the one in the Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi, Vietnam. It is also the only known live individual from the Red River population. In respect that the species had been ignored or confused with other soft-shells during the last 100 years and serious habitat loss along with over-harvest had eliminated the wild Rafetus population, their status in the wild is poorly known. No Rafetus swinhoei had been captured in the River Yangtze since 1962. The survey carried out in 2004 concerning on this drainage area reveals that Rafetus population in the lower Yangtze may have been extinct for decades. In the same year, the survey carried out in Vietnam also reveals that only a handful of animals might survive in some places in Yen Bai, Lai Chau, Hoa Binh or Viet Tri to the best extent (Peter Prichard, 2004). Although 50% of the Rafetus swinhoei specimens in the museums and zoos of China are from Yunnan province, the former and current status of this species in the area had been never investigated. Granted by the Chelonian Research Foundation-Turtle Conservation Fund, we carried out a 14- days-survey in southeast Yunnan, focusing the drainage areas of the Red River in February, 2007.
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