Project Overview

In 2016, the largest and most well-known individual Swinhoe’s Giant Softshell Turtle, of Vietnam’s Hoan Kiem Lake in Vietnam, died as a legend. Today only three individual Swinhoe’s Softshell Turtles—known also as the Yangzte Giant Softshell Turtle—are known to science: A semi-wild animal in Dong Mo Lake in northern Vietnam and a captive pair at the Suzhou Zoo in China. Unfortunately the pair at Suzhou Zoo has not successfully bred, even after four attempted artificial inseminations, which means that the main hope for the future of this species is for biologists to find additional individuals.

The Swinhoe’s Giant Softshell Turtle was once widely distributed throughout the main river systems of southern and eastern China, northern Vietnam and perhaps Laos, especially in the immense drainage systems of Red River and Yangtze River. Biologists believe there is a high possibility of finding the species based on historical record, habitat suitability and the complex geographic features that provide great habitat for turtles.

Project Goals

Global Wildlife Conservation and Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) have joined forces to help coordinate local and international efforts to help locate and identify additional individual Swinhoe’s Giant Softshell Turtles and to develop a conservation action plan. Specifically this project aims to:

  • Conduct in-depth surveys based on recent records of the species
  • Identify priorities for conservation and recommend actions and interventions

Fast Facts

Red List status

Critically Endangered

# of known individuals


Major threats

Poaching, pollution, fisheries bycatch/entanglement