This species is distributed in swamps, lakes and large rivers in northern Vietnam, southern China and possibly Laos. However, for a long time, no wild populations were found, until 2007 when the first wild turtle was confirmed in Dong Mo Lake, outside Hanoi.

Hoan Kiem turtle has been identified as the rarest turtle in the world. Only 4 individuals were recorded, of which, 1 individual in Suzhou Zoo (China) and 3 individuals in Vietnam. Currently, the only Hoan Kiem turtle in China has passed away, so the hope of preserving this rare animal remains only in Vietnam.

Hoan Kiem turtle is a large soft-shell turtle, they do not have a hard shell covering the outside of the body like other hard-shelled turtles. Instead, they have a system of interconnected bones in the form of discs to protect the back and a skin with soft frills covering the outside.

After more than a decade of discovery and conservation, recently on October 22, 2020, the permanent department of the Turtle Trap Nest caught 1 turtle at Dong Mo Lake in a pre-wired net.

To determine the exact species, the department along side with domestic and foreign experts agreed to check the morphology (weigh, measure) and take samples of turtles including blood samples, tissue samples, etc. go get tested.

Test results, this individual turtle weighs 86kg, the length of the shell is 99.5cm, the width of the shell is 75.5cm. The largest recorded size of this species is more than 1m long and weighs more than 150kg.

 Hoan Kiem turtle can live to be more than 100 years old.

By ultrasound, experts have determined that this is a female. Ultrasound images show that inside the body of this turtle, there are developing follicles, showing that this individual is still in reproductive age.

By genetic analysis, it has been confirmed that this turtle is 99.99% Hoan Kiem turtle (Rafetus swinhoei). Animal identification was carried out by the Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources, Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology and independent genetic analysis by the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, Institute of Natural Resources and Environment of Vietnam National University, Hanoi

After taking samples for analysis, this turtle was released back to Dong Mo Lake

According to and