Exhaustive interview surveys were carried out on the upper Red River (Honghe) and nearby river systems of southwest China to characterize the distribution of Rafetus swinhoei, one of the rarest turtles in the world. The results show that the species once ranged strictly in the Red River system, apart from the lower Yangtze, and still existed in recent years, although it was on the brink of extinction due to overharvesting and habitat degradation. Further conservation efforts require monitoring of the hunting and trade of turtles in this region, public education, delaying the building of dams, setting up new protected areas, and international cooperation.

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