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Conservationists are keeping an eye on turtle farms in Southern Vietnam that claim to breed Amyda cartilaginea
Endangered (IUCN 2011) Southeast Asiatic soft turtle (Amyda cartilaginea) are increasingly rare throughout their range in southeast Asia. Eaten and use in traditional medicine many populations have been decimated and local hunters now have a tough time finding the species in the wild.
In some areas attempts are being made to capitalize on the species through farming it in captivity. One such example is that of a turtle farm in Hau Giang province, southern Vietnam where one farmer claims to be holding 3,000 Asiatic softshells which she apparently breeds and sell for up to 1.500.000VND per individual.
Unfortunately the term farm is often loosely used in Vietnam. Often animals caught from the wild and ‘ranched', held or grown to a larger size, before being sold without having bred in captivity are referred to as ‘farmed' rather than the sustainable reproduction of captive for multiple generations which many people may associate with farming.
Although the Hau Giang farm claims to have permission from the Forest Protection Department (FPD) it is not clear how much evidence there is that animals are breeding in a closed population or whether the ‘farm' is supplementing wild caught animals. If wild caught animals are being used which is common practice for many such captive facilities it would raise the question on the legality of the business.
If wild animals, hatchlings or juveniles, continue to be collected to supply stock for the ‘farm' it would be breaking a number of laws within the country, primarily Decree 99/2009/ND-CP. Greater care and transparency is needed for the 100's of wildlife breeding business's already in Vietnam with care taken in assessing viability and monitoring of such ‘farms' before they are given approval to operate. As it is likely many such ‘farms' are contributing to the loss of species biodiversity in Vietnam and the region at large.
Press Release by: Sarah Wahl & Tim McCormack – Asian Turtle Program (ATP)
15th February 2012
Source: Tu van huong nghiep (online) - Link to this web article online (Vietnamese)
[Photo source: tuvanhuongnghiep.vn]
Above: The Southeast Asian soft turtle (Amyda cartilaginea), one of Vietnam's native species that nowadays is increasingly rare in the wild.
Above: The owner of an Amyda operation in Hau Giang province (right) and a staff member (left) showing the reporter one of the ‘farmed' (or illegally wild caught) animals that are for sale