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Florida softshell turtles appear in Vietnamese food markets
Since spring 2009 Florida Softshell Turtles (Apalone ferox) have been appearing in food markets around Hanoi, Northern Vietnam. Although the origins are not clear it is likely they are being brought from China where large numbers have been shipped from the southern United States in recent years. At a price of between 250-350,000VND per kilogram ( $13 – 18.50/kg) they are not cheap, over double that of locally farmed Chinese softshell turtles (Pelodiscus sinensis).
Worryingly it seems plenty of customers are happy to pay these prices, with the huge demand for turtles in Asia, particularly China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Many species are seen as a delicacy food while others are considered important in traditional medicine. This demand has seen most wild populations of Asian turtle so reduced that alternative sources have been sought. But farming requiring significant resources in time and money and with many species difficult or almost impossible to farm. The cheapest, and most economical source of turtles can now be from halfway around the world. Meanwhile prices of local species continues to rise and populations are further depleted sustaining a pressure on surviving wild populations throughout the region with little indication of it easing in the foreseeable future and inevitable extinctions on the horizon.
By Tim McCormack
31st May 2010
Florida Softshell Turtles for sale in Hanoi food market, a sign of the almost complete loss of local turtle populations?