Sad news from The Turtle Survival Alliance. It’s been confirmed that one of the four remaining Yangtze Giant Softshell Turtles (Rafetus swinhoei) has died. Details are incoming but the cause of death is likely due to pollution in the lake he lived in.  This leaves the only known members of the species one in a protected lake in Vietnam and a male-female pair living in a zoo in China. 

Via the Turtle Survival Alliance facebook page

The Turtle Survival Alliance has confirmed that one of the world’s four known remaining Yangtze Giant Softshell Turtles (Rafetus swinhoei), has died in Vietnam. This turtle – believed to be a male – was highly revered in Vietnam and was a long-time occupant of Hoan Kiem Lake in the heart of downtown Hanoi. Sightings of the turtle attracted large crowds, as well as visitors from around the world. This turtle made global news back in 2011 when health concerns prompted officials to capture the turtle for medical treatment and mount a massive cleanup effort for the polluted lake.

The death of this Rafetus reduces the known number of living animals to three: one in a protected lake in Vietnam and a pair at the Suzhou Zoo in China. Since 2008, this pair has been the subject of intensive efforts to encourage them to reproduce in captivity as a last ditch effort to save the species, currently recognized as the most endangered turtle in the world.

We will bring you more information as this story develops….

What would the world be like without the Yangtze giant softshell turtle? Let’s not find out!  

(Source Ugly Animal Society & Turtle Survival Alliance

Most animals are best at one thing, but the Yangtze giant softshell turtle masters at least two. With only four individuals known to science, and only one of those a female, this turtle is one of the rarest animals on earth. However, that’s not the limit of its plight, because you see, it is also one of the ugliest!  Just look at her. Her beady little eyes have a twinkle that suggests defiance of extinction. Unfortunately, most people won’t notice her tiny eyes, because it’s difficult to see past the long soggy neck, massive girth, webbed talons and the rubbery-looking “snorkel” in front of her eyes.  These less-than-lovely physical characteristics may be one reason why the conservation of this species is rife with challenges.  Although another charming, albeit invisible, trait which this beauty bears is the unique (to aquatic turtles, that is) ability to breathe through her butt, allowing the exchange of oxygen while completely submerged.  It is no surprise that while the Yangtze giant softshell turtle stands apart, it is also in danger of standing alone.  The main causes of this species’ endangerment are habitat pollution, environmental degradation and believe it or not, consumption by humans. This last female Yangtze giant softshell turtle, one of the three remaining males, and the Turtle Survival Alliance, have joined forces in an effort to ensure that the world is never without this uniquely appealing turtle.  Take action this World Turtle Day and join the Turtle Survival Alliance in its mission to save the Yangtze Giant Softshell Turtle from extinction.