Rafetus leloii Hà Dinh Dúc, 2000

Hoan Kiem Lake turtle



Taxonomy & Nomenclature



Conservation Status

Last record: January (pre-20th) 2016

IUCN RedList status: listed as a synonym of Rafetus swinhoei (Gray, 1873)



Hoan Kiem lake, Hanoi, Vietnam


Biology & Ecology




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.






Original scientific description:

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


Other references:

Anonymous. (2011). Hoan Kiem turtle is a new species. news site (

Asian Turtle Trade Working Group. (2000). Rafetus swinhoei. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. ( 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). Rafetus leloii Ha Dinh Duc, 2000: An invalid species of softshell turtle from Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi, Vietnam (Reptilia, Testudines, Trionychidae). Zoologische Abhandlungden (Dresden) 53: 107-112.

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

Heinselman, Craig. (2000). Hoan Kiem Turtle - A tale of the Sword. 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.


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