Listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the Yangtze giant softshell turtle is the most critically endangered turtle in the world. She had been moved to the zoo where efforts were made to mate her with a 100-year-old male. There were only five known Yangtze giant softshell turtles left in the world in 2016 and all of them were raised in captivity. It is called the Leatherback. It measures three-and-a-half metres and weighs 700-800 kgs,” says Tripathy. Down To Earth is a product of our commitment to make changes in the way we manage our environment, protect health and secure livelihoods and economic security for all. We cannot estimate how many there are, but from speaking with locals, there should be one or two. Although hard to compare due to the extremely small number of remaining specimens, its average and maximum sizes seem to exceed other large freshwater turtles such as alligator snapping turtles and related giant softshells such as other Rafetus and Pelochelysspecies. These extraordinary turtles are teetering on the brink of extinction. Since 2006, no Yangtze giant softshell turtle has been found in the Red River Valley. Ten years ago was the most critical time to begin preservation efforts for this species, but people didn't realize that. According to Chinese news agency, Xinhua, the Yangtze giant soft shell turtle is known to have inhabited the Yangtze river in China and the Red river that flows from southern China into northern Vietnam for millions of years. “In soft shell turtles, the top or back is fleshy. These turtles bask on the shore and lay their eggs on it. Housed together at China’s Suzhou Zoo, the pair’s breeding success is crucial to the survival of their species.Although the female has laid hundreds of eggs since 2008, none of her eggs have hatched and the lack of There are only four known living individuals, two in the wild and two in zoos. We have not found one yet, but each year we plan to come to China during this time to try to find one. If they disappear, that means our ecological system is quite bad. All rights reserved. Sand mining prevents them from doing either.”. The species dwindled rapidly during the latter half of the 20th century as infrastructure development along China's Red River devastated the turtles' habitat. Those efforts ended on April 12. The last four attempts with the breeding pair in China were unsuccessful. If we can find one in the field, that just might increase our odds. It measures over 100 cm (39 in) i… Our aim is to bring you news, perspectives and knowledge to prepare you to change the world. You can further help us by making a donation. One is the 100-year-old male in Suzhou. They are virtually extinct in the wild, with the exception of one individual spotted in the Dong Mo Lake. Researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society are searching for a wild Yangtze turtle that they believe to be tucked away deep in the Yunnan Province. One of the world's rarest turtles, a Yangtze giant softshell, has died in China, leaving just three known survivors of the species. It grows to 100 centimetres and weighs up to 100 kilograms (kgs). “The name itself points to that,” says Zoological Survey of India scientist, Basudev Tripathy. The male in China is quite old, but the female is young. “The Gangetic soft shell turtle (Nilssonia gangetica) is poached for its meat. It became endangered because humans built roads, buildings and dams where the turtle likes to live and because of pollution. We won't know for another month if our results were successful. “The hard shell varieties are found in both, marine and freshwater environments. What work is being done to find Yangtze softshell turtles in the Yunnan Province? The Yangtze giant softshell turtle is one of the most critically endangered species in the world. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. An endangered Yangtze giant softshell turtles dies, leaving only three of its species left By Staff The Associated Press Posted April 15, 2019 6:55 am If we can help them survive, that means our ecological system is quite good. According to media reports, the female died after a failed artificial insemination in Suzhou Shangfangshan Forest Zoo in eastern China's Jiangsu Province on April 12, 2019. Since 2015, an effort had been on to artificially inseminate. Due to this fact, the turtle is listed as critically endangered by IUCN Red List. We are conducting field surveys to search for a Yangtze in the wild. According to media reports, the female died after a failed artificial insemination in Suzhou Shangfangshan Forest Zoo in eastern China's Jiangsu Province on April 12, 2019. They can live for nearly a century and grow to be nearly 200 pounds. Nearly all species of marine turtles are endangered, as well as many of their freshwater brethren like the Yangtze turtle. The female laid fertilised eggs on several occasions but none of them hatched. Aimin Wang, a National Geographic grant recipient and director of the China division of the Wildlife Conservation Society, spoke with National Geographic about efforts to bring this species back from the brink of extinction. One of the last of its kind: a Yangtze giant softshell turtle (Rafetus swinhoei) surfaces in a lake in Vietnam. THE Yangtze giant softshell turtle species lost its last female after dying in captivity aged 90, leaving just three of the species left, and many species are likely to follow suit. Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. This critically endangered species holds the title of being the largest freshwater turtle in the world. Yangtze Giant Softshell Turtle. With only three known individuals still alive, the Yangtze giant softshell turtle (Rafetus swinhoei) is the most endangered species of turtle in the world. It may be too late, but we have some opportunities now to save them. While rebuilding an entire species from only three turtles is difficult, it's not impossible. A male and female are in captivity in the Suzhou Zoo in China, and one wild turtle lives in a Vietnamese lake called Dong Mo. She was 90 years-old. (See "How Thousands of 'Good Luck' Coins Killed a Rare Sea Turtle."). The last surviving female dies in a Chinese zoo. The recent death of the last known surviving female Yangtze giant soft shell turtle (Rafetus swinhoei) means that the species is now walking into the sunset. Pollution, sand mining, poaching and dams threaten their future,” he adds. This is a flagship species, and for biodiversity, they're quite important. It was the inspiration behind the mythological creature "Bi Xi" or "Ba Xia," the sixth son of the dragon in ancient Chinese belief. “Freshwater turtles are more threatened today than marine ones,” says Biswajit Mohanty, Secretary, Wildlife Society of Orissa. The Yangtze giant softshell turtle (Rafetus swinhoei) is a large, beautiful, charismatic freshwater Asian turtle.. The Wildlife Conservations Society calls the Yangtze giant softshell turtle the world's most critically endangered turtle species, killed off due to hunting as well as habitat destruction. Yangtze giant softshell turtle (Rafetus swinhoei) — The last known female of this species died in China in April during an artificial insemination procedure, making the species effectively extinct. The largest turtle on the planet though, is neither hard shell nor soft. In February of last year, a fourth turtle — believed to be nearly 100 years old — died in captivity in Vietnam, reducing the world population by a quarter. Yangtze softshell turtles, also called Red River turtles, are the largest freshwater turtles in the world. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition. Tripathy explains it with examples from India. They eat dead bodies floating in rivers and keep them clean. In the waters of the Yunnan Province of China, a team of conservationists is hoping to find a turtle with some very valuable sperm. The Yangtze giant soft-shell turtle used to live in the Red River in China and in many parts of Vietnam in the flood plain from the Yangtze River. We believe information is a powerful driver for the new tomorrow. There was thought to b… R. swinhoei is also the largest species of freshwater turtle in the world; it’s been recorded to reach sizes of over 39 inches in length and 28 inches in width and has a lifespan of up to 100 years in the wild. They also feed on plankton,” says Tripathy. The Yangtze giant softshell turtle is noted for its deep head with a pig-like snout and dorsally placed eyes. The species is often referred to as the most endangered turtle in the world. Why are these turtles so important to save? The enormous Yangtze giant softshell turtle is the world’s rarest turtle, with only three individuals thought to remain in the world. In addition to these extinctions, the IUCN last year declared several species “extinct in … Sadly, the Yangtze Giant Softshell Turtle replaced the Pinta Island Giant Tortoise ( Chelonoidis abingdonii ) as the chelonian most at risk of extinction when the last remaining individual of the tortoise species, "Lonesome George," died in 2012. Established in 1964, the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species has evolved to become the world’s most comprehensive information source on the global conservation status of animal, fungi and plant species. The recent death of the last known surviving female Yangtze giant soft shell turtle (Rafetus swinhoei) means that the species is now walking into the sunset. One is wild living in a reservoir in Vietnam and the other two are a breeding pair at the Suzhou Zoo in China, both believed to be more than 100 years old. But what is the difference between them and hard shelled turtles? Chinese state media has reported that the 90-year-old turtle, Xiangxiang, is believed to have passed away after researchers attempted to artificially inseminate her. The species is often referred to as the most endangered turtle in the world. The Swinhoe's softshell turtle (also known as the Yangtze giant softshell turtle) is the world’s rarest, with just one male in captivity and one other animal of unknown sex known to be living in the wild in Vietnam. What would it mean for the species if one were to be found? The turtles are bred using artificial insemination. It is somewhere in the middle. For populations to thrive, the turtles need clean water and beaches to hunt on. Listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the Yangtze giant softshell turtle is the most critically endangered turtle in the world. Sadly, it is also the most endangered turtle species with only three left in the world. The last ever known female Yangtze giant soft-shelled turtle has died, meaning the last hope for the species may have now gone. © 1996-2015 National Geographic Society, © 2015- With the last remaining breeding pair in captivity, the Yangtze giant softshell turtle Rafetus swinhoei is one of the world’s most critically endangered species. It also suffers from sand mining in the Chambal river, a major habitat. One of the remaining four individuals is in captivity at Suzhou Zoo, China, where efforts are ongoing to achieve captive breeding. This will mean a lot for our ability to bring you news, perspectives and analysis from the ground so that we can make change together. “Their population is low and highly localised. Number one on the list in 2018 is the Yangtze Giant Softshell Turtle (Rafetus swinhoei) of China and Vietnam; the largest freshwater turtle in the world. Tripathy says the soft shell of the turtles renders them vulnerable to predators and hence, all of them are usually found in freshwater habitats like rivers, lakes and ponds. Endangered Giant – The critically endangered Yangtze giant softshell turtle is one of the largest freshwater turtle species in the world, weighing in at a massive 220 lbs! What leads you to believe that one can still be found? A male Rafetus swinhoei (also known as Yangtze giant softshell turtle) is seen after being collected sperm at Suzhou Zoo, May 6, 2015, in Suzhou, Jiangsu province of China. The Yangtze giant softshell turtle is one of the most critically endangered species in the world. 2020 National Geographic Partners, LLC. As China pushes for more renewable energy, dams are being rapidly built in the country's southwest region, which can be massively disruptive to wildlife in the region. We believe strongly that we can and must do things differently. We just tried for a fifth time and got high-quality sperm. This year from April to May, the team is doing a field survey in the Red River. We are a voice to you; you have been a support to us. Suzhou authorities said Chinese and foreign experts are investigating the cause of the turtle… They serve as an important [indicator of environmental health]. (The Vietnamese turtle is believed to be male, but because they are so elusive, determining its sex has been difficult.). Yangtze Giant Softshell Turtle No turtle is more critically endangered than the Yangtze giant softshell turtle – with sad news that the last known female of the species died on April 13, 2019, only three individuals are known to exist; two in Vietnam and one at the Suzhou Zoo in China, believed to be more than 100 years old. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. The species’ extinction draws attention to the plight of soft shell turtles. We have talked with local people who, based on their description, have probably seen a [Yangtze] turtle. It is also the rarest. However, all efforts to date to induce breeding, including artificial insemination, have failed. The female had been found in 2008 in the city of Changsha. With the passing of the female, only three known individuals of this species remain in the world. Yangtze giant softshell turtles are designated as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). © Copyright Down To Earth 2020. Yangtze giant softshell turtles originated in China, making their homes in the Yangtze River and Taihu Lake, according to the People’s Daily. There Are Only 3 of These Turtles Left on Earth, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2017/05/yangtze-softshell-red-river-turtle-endangered.html, How Thousands of 'Good Luck' Coins Killed a Rare Sea Turtle. Yangtze giant softshell turtles originated in China, making their homes in the Yangtze River and Taihu Lake. There is another male in Vietnam’s Dong Mo Lake, and a turtle in Xuan Khanh Lake on the outskirts of Hanoi, whose gender is unknown. It increases our opportunity [for successful breeding] quite a bit. Due to overhunting and habitat destruction, the Yangtze turtle is listed as critically endangered by the International Union of Conservation for Nature (IUCN). 60% of primate species now threatened with extinction, says major new study, Irrawaddy dolphin on brink of extinction in Myanmar. Their eggs, meat, and skin leaves them vulnerable to poaching, and their habitat is uniquely susceptible to feeling the adverse effects of climate change. All rights reserved. Although moving the Changsha Zoo's female—the younger of the pair at then 80 years old—to the Suzhou Zoo was risky because of the stress it would cause the … “They are scavengers. 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