Last update 1/7/2011 10:00:00 AM (GMT+7)

Hanoi’s legendary turtle needs protection

VietNamNet Bridge – Associate Professor, Doctor of Biology Ha Dinh Duc said that the ancient turtle in Hanoi’s Hoan Kiem lake faced many risks. The biggest risk now is red-eared turtles.

Legendary turtle suffers new injuries

Citing the book “World Turtles” by Carl H. Ernst and Roger W. Barbour, published in 1989, the famous expert on Hanoi and the legendary turtle, said that most Vietnamese people don’t know about the evil influence of red-eared turtles.

“When they are small, they eat animals. When they get bigger, they eat plants. According to my research, red-eared turtles have eaten the green algae in the Hoan Kiem Lake. They have become the biggest danger to the ancient turtle,” the expert said.

According to Dr. Duc, Hoan Kiem Lake had four old turtles in the past but only one is still alive. The turtle, one of the four of its species? in the world, faces many risks. He currently has many wounds, which were caused by fish-hooks and red-eared turtles.

Red-eared turtles appeared in the historical lake in 1997, Duc said.

“In 2004, Hoan Kiem district authorities invited me to a meeting about red-eared turtles. At that time, I confirmed that this species was exotic animal and they must be destroyed to protect the legendary turtle that is a thousand years old”.

He said that Hoan Kiem district authorities reported to the Hanoi government about the exotic turtles  and asked the city to take measures to kill them. However, the dangerous turtles are developing.

Duc said that after eating out algae in the lake, they nibble the shell of the legendary turtle.

“The latest photos of the wounds of the ancient turtle which were published on some online newspapers are the worst that I’ve seen in the past 20 years, since I’ve researched the legendary turtle. The turtle is very old and weak. If his is not protected, he may die any time,” he said.

Director of the Hanoi Department of Science and Technology Le Xuan Rao said that the department had submitted to the Hanoi authorities the plan to kill red-earred turtles in the Hoan Kiem Lake. However, scientists have not found measures to cure the wounds of the ancient turtle.

“This is a sensitive issue so we need to conduct more research,” Rao said.

Experts said that it is difficult to immediately kill red-eared turtles but Hanoi authorities need to quickly protect the ancient turtle. If he dies, who will bear the responsibility?

The ancient turtle in the Hoan Kiem Lake is one of the only four turtles of the giant turtle species in the world. The others are living at another lake in Hanoi, named Dong Mo and the two  are caged in China.

The turtle is famous for its rareness and its connection to the legend about the Hoan Kiem Lake.

Hoan Kiem Lake (meaning "Lake of the Returned Sword" or "Lake of the Restored Sword"), also known as Sword Lake, is a lake in the historical center of Hanoi. The lake is one of the major scenic spots in the city and serves as a focal point for its public life.

According to the legend, emperor Le Loi handed a magic sword called Heaven's Will which brought him victory in his revolt against the Chinese Ming Dynasty back to the Golden Turtle God (Kim Qui) in the lake and hence gave it its present name (the lake was formerly known as "Luc Thuy" meaning "Green Water"). The Tortoise Tower (Thap Rùa) standing on a small island near the center of lake is linked to the legend.