• Turtle trade at South East Asian markets.

    STOP IT!

  • Turtle trade at South East Asian markets.

    STOP IT!

  • Turtle trade at South East Asian markets.

    STOP IT!

Turtle trade at
South East Asian markets

Affected Species: espacially asian species
Location: South East Asia, worldwide

Turtles are exploited worldwide. They are marketed not only en masse in the international pet trade, but are still an important protein resource in many countries.

Turtles are consumed in large quantities not only in China but in other “exotic” countries as well. In the Middle Ages, the European pond turtle (Emys orbicularis) was highly appreciated as a food for the religious observance of Lent in central Europe. Countless turtles enrich today’s menu in the United States, some bred in farms and simply taken from the wild. In South Asia, the harvesting of turtle eggs and the consumption of turtles have a long tradition. In Bangladesh, rare turtles get slaughtered and sold to the public on a daily basis.

TURTLE ISLAND purchases threatened species from fishermen and releases them into sanctuaries or integrates them into conservation breeding projects for assurance colonies.

INTERESTING FACTS

Populations of Asian turtles are extremely endangered due to human influences, such as  harvesting for local consumption, international meat market, international pet trade, habitat destruction and introduction of competing invasive species. The turtle trade has probably occurred since historical times, but pressure from exponential population growth, the improved infrastructure and modern fishing methods have caused the extinction of many turtle species and brought others to the brink of extinction.

Turtle meat is considered a culinary delicacy with perceived health and medicinal benefits in many East Asian cultures. The mass trade of turtles for consumption has rapidly increased, as the economies of Asian countries have grown in recent decades along with their purchasing power.

Initially, the main source of turtles for China was Vietnam and Bangladesh. As their turtle populations collapsed, these countries began acquiring turtles from neighboring countries and trans-shipping them to East Asia. Thus, turtle populations in India, Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia have become exposed to these same intensive collection pressures. Based on the available data, a minimum of 13,000 metric tons of live turtles are exported from South and Southeast Asia to East Asia each year. In the 1990’s, at least 1,500 tons of wild-caught turtles were exported from Bangladesh to China.

All soft-shelled turtlespecies are used for human consumption. As international trade of live turtles has been hampered by legal regulations, the market has now shifted to the dried cartilaginous part of the soft-shell turtle shell, called calipee. The calipee can be easily hidden, is unrecognizable and smuggled between shipments of dried fish. In Bangladesh, some turtlespecies cannot withstand such extreme harvesting pressure and have already vanished, such as the Red-crowned roof turtle (Batagur kachuga). Multiple other species are very close to extirpation.

The first new moon in November is celebrated as the “Kali Puja ” by the Bengali population. During this festival, the dreaded goddess Kali is worshiped with Tantric rites and mantras. People try to appease her anger through offerings of red hibiscus, animal blood, animal skulls and slaughtering. Turtles are used in disproportionately high numbers for these rituals. During Kali Puja in 2013, an estimated 30,000 turtles were openly butchered at the Tanti Bazar, located in the heart of Dhaka, capital of Bangladesh. Of these, approximately 7,000 Flap-shelled turtles ( Lissemys punctata andersoni), 1,000 Indian-eyed turtles (Morenia petersi), 9,000 Indian peacock (Nilssonia hurum) and Ganges soft-shell turtles (Nilssonia gangetica) were butchered. The rest consisted of high numbers of Indian-roofed turtles (Pangshura tecta) and a few specimens of very rare species, such as the Crowned-river turtle (Hardella thurjii). The Crowned-river turtle unfortunately displays  a very distinct orange-colored band on his otherwise black-colored head, resembling the colors of the goddess Kali. Locally, it is called Kali Kata (Kali’s turtle); they are caught, hoarded and brutally end under the ax for this festival, ultimately dying for this reason and obtaining high prices on the market.

TURTLE ISLAND specifically buys rare turtles from catchers and dealers before they are offered in the markets. Thus, we do not increase their demand. In Bangladesh, an officially estimated 50,000 scavengers prowl along ponds, lakes and rivers, collecting every single turtle they can obtain.

Did you know ...

Things you should know about this project:

Threat

During Kali Puja in 2013, an estimated 30,000 turtles were openly butchered at the Tanti Bazar, located in the heart of Dhaka, capital of Bangladesh.

Conservation Meassures

TURTLE ISLAND purchases threatened species from fishermen and releases them into sanctuaries or integrates them into conservation breeding projects for assurance colonies.

OUR WORK

TURTLE ISLAND specifically buys rare turtles from catchers and dealers before they are offered in the markets. Thus, we do not increase their demand. In Bangladesh, an officially estimated 50,000 scavengers prowl along ponds, lakes and rivers, collecting every single turtle they can obtain.

PROJECT-COORDINATES.

South-Asia, China,
Bangladesh