News from the Natural World: Swinhoe’s Softshell Turtle suffers a crippling anxiety attack from being the last surviving hope for its species.
After a startling discovery, the last known remaining male Giant Swinhoe’s Softshell Turtle is no longer alone. Human scientists discovered a female 86kg (13 stone) in Dong Mo Lake, in Hanoi’s Son Tay district. Once sighted they immediately captured the Turtle for genetic testing. DNA tests subsequently confirmed the animal is a Swinhoe’s Softshell Turtle, (Rafetus swinhoei), the most critically endangered turtle in the world. Soon after another turtle estimated to weigh 130kg was sighted in the lake, and conservationists hope that this could be another male. Previously the only known male Swinhoe’s Softshell Turtle was at Suzhou Zoo in China. But what had happened to the Swinhoe’s, why were there so few left?
They had been driven to the brink by hunting for their meat and eggs, as well as by destruction of their habitat. In the past, if one was caught, its meat was shared amongst a human family, relatives and the neighbourhood. Many of the turtles were also hunted to sell to China. Their eggs were also collected and soaked in salt, as local people believed turtle salted egg helped cure diarrhoea. It had been a terrible time for turtles all over the world and we wanted to get their view. We managed to secure an interview with the last remaining Swinhoe’s Softshell Turtle called Sachi.
Swinhoe’s Softshell Turtle Suffers Anxiety Attack
Sachi had this to say “It’s been an absolute bloody nightmare you know. One morning you’re minding your own business in your pond the next minute human scientists have got their filthy hands all over you. Chucking me in a box, prodding me with needles and assaulting me. It was horrid. When I figured out what was happening I was terrified. The last known female before they found me died in April 2019. She had been paired with a male in Suzhou in 2008 but had not produced offspring naturally. Then those humans raped her and tried artificial insemination. She didn’t recover from an anaesthetic and died. That’s not happening to me!”