Scientists announced that they have discovered the natural habitat of a rare turle species, the Vietnamese box turtle (Cuora picturata), in forests on the Langbian Plateau in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong .

Scientists from the HCM City University of Natural Sciences did field surveys from July last year to January together with a colleague from the US-based North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, according to a press release from the University.

They found eight turtles at various locations on the plateau.

"This discovery provides foundation for conservation of the Vietnamese box turtle and hope for determining the wild origin of other rare turtle species," the scientists said.

Conservation activities like habitat protection and wildlife rehabilitation could only be effective when the natural ranges of animals were clearly known, they added.

This endangered turtle was first discovered in 1998 in HCM City because of the illegal wildlife trade but scientists had never saw it in the wild until now.

The natural habitats of many Asian turtle species remained a mystery to scientists, they said.

Meanwhile, the illegal poaching and trading of turtle for food, traditional medicine, and pets have taken many species to the brink of extinction. /.