Rafetus leloii Hà Dinh Dúc, 2000

Hoan Kiem Lake turtle

Hoan Kiem lake, Hanoi, Vietnam
Last Record
January (pre-20th) 2016
IUCN status
Listed as a synonym of [url=https://www.iucnredlist.org/details/39621/0][i]Rafetus swinhoei[/i][/url] (Gray, 1873)
The Reptile Database
TSE Forum thread
One individual which died in 1967 is preserved in the temple on the largest of the two islands on the lake. As it is not lodged in an official museum it does not bear an accession number.
The population of soft-shelled turtles in Hoan Kiem lake (now down to a single individual) was long suspected to be synonymous with [i]Rafetus swinhoei[/i] (and is still listed as such by the IUCN). However, DNA analysis which has been performed, has apparently confirmed it as a new species (Anonymous, 2011). This has also corrected the sex of the last individual, which was believed to be male, but which is now know to be female (Ibid.). However, as this analysis has not been published in a peer reviewed scientific journal, recognition of this news will probably not be forthcoming, assuming that it is true that this individual represents a different species than [i]R. swinhoei[/i]. Thus caution must necessarily be eased when considering the taxonomic affinities of this individual. Either result would have grave conservation implications, and cannot be dealt with in any manner other than with the most seriousness.

Recently, the individual surfaced again with several cuts to its right front flipper and neck. Currently it's lake home is being cleaned in order to prolong the life of the turtle.
[b]Original Scientific Description:[/b]

Hà Dinh Dúc. (2000). A new species of the genus Rafetus (Family: Trionychidae) from Hoan Kiem lake of Vietnam. Archaeology Magazine (Vietnam) 4:104.

[b]Species Bibliography:[/b]

Anonymous. (2011). Hoan Kiem turtle is a new species. VietNameNet.com news site (https://english.vietnamnet.vn/en/science-technology/7350/hoan-kiem-turtle-is-a-new-species.html)

Asian Turtle Trade Working Group. (2000). Rafetus swinhoei. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. (https://www.iucnredlist.org). Downloaded on 11 November 2012.

Binh, Le Tran et al. (2010). Comparative morphological and DNA analysis of specimens of giant freshwater soft-shelled turtle in Vietnam related to Hoan Kiem Turtle. Tạp chí Công nghệ Sinh học 8(3A): 949-954.

CNN. (1998). Giant Turtle Sightings Set Vietnam Capital Abuzz. April 13, 1998.

Farkas, Balazs, and, Webb, Robert G. (2003). [url=https://www.iucn-tftsg.org/wp-content/uploads/file/Articles/Farkas_and_Webb_2003.pdf]Rafetus leloii Ha Dinh Duc, 2000: An invalid species of softshell turtle from Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi, Vietnam (Reptilia, Testudines, Trionychidae)[/url]. Zoologische Abhandlungden (Dresden) 53: 107-12.

Heinselman, Craig. (1998). News Note: Hoan Kiem Turtle. Crypto 1(2): [pagination?].

Heinselman, Craig. (2000). [url=https://www.strangeark.com/crypto/Crypto7.pdf]Hoan Kiem Turtle - A tale of the Sword[/url]. Crypto 3(3): 15-30.

Pritchard, Peter C. H. (2012). Rafetus, The Curve of Extinction: The Story of the Giant Softshell Turtle of the Yangtze and Red Rivers. Living Art Publishing. 174 pp.

Shuker, Karl. (1998). Turning Turtle? Fortean Times 113: 18.

Viet Nam News. (2000). A Hoàn Kieám Turtle Pops Up to Say Hello. March 16.