Vietnam is home to 25 species of tortoises and freshwater turtles, including three species that are found nowhere else in the world. Most of Vietnam’s native species are threatened due to illegal hunting and trade.

Hard shell turtles are often exported to China or other international markets where they are sold as exotic food, or used in traditional Chinese medicine. Soft shell turtles are commonly consumed by Vietnamese in restaurants. Some of Vietnam’s rarer turtles also end up in American, European, and other international pet markets.

There are also five marine turtle species native to Vietnam, although the two species most commonly caught by fishermen are the hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) and the green turtle (Chelonia mydas). While some fishermen release marine turtles back into the wild when accidentally caught, others bring them ashore where they are sold as pets, or slaughtered for their shell which is used to make products such as jewelry, combs, eye-glasses or ornaments. ENV helps to get marine turtles confiscated from fishermen and released back into the ocean.


A beautiful example of an Indochinese box turtle (Cuora galbinifrons), rescued from a shipment of turtles to China. Photo by ENV