a1 Department of Biology, Hainan Normal University, Haikou, 571158, Hainan Province, China.
a2 Department of Herpetology, California Academy of Sciences, 875 Howard Street, San Francisco, CA, USA.
a3 Fauna Division, The Endangered Species Import and Export Management Office of China #18 Hepingli Dongjie, Beijing 100714, China.
a4 Department of Science and Education, China Wildlife Conservation Association, #18 Hepingli Dongjie, Beijing 100714, China.
One of the main threats to the survival of Asian turtles is the demand in China for turtles for use as food and medicine products. As the demand for turtle products escalated over the past 20 years entrepreneurs initiated commercial breeding facilities for profit. To gain a better understanding of the scale of the captive turtle trade we conducted a survey of the 1,499 large turtle farms known by branch offices of the Endangered Species Import and Export Management Office and the Provincial Forestry Bureaus. The results from the 684 respondent farms (46%) indicated that a total of >300 million turtles are sold per year and are worth c. USD 750 million. Although the bulk of these figures comprise the common Chinese softshell turtle Pelodiscus sinensis many other species are also farmed, including Critically Endangered species and even species native to North America. As 54% of known farms did not respond to our survey we suggest that the trade in captive turtles is probably a multi-billion dollar industry. This is likely considering that many Chinese turtle farms operate covertly and are thus impossible to survey. The large scale of turtle farming in China raises questions about the impact of so many threatened turtles being bred and sold for profit. Because the commercial breeding of these species is so well developed and large in scale, the deleterious impact is serious and difficult to control.
(Received September 07 2006)
(Reviewed November 07 2006)
(Accepted February 03 2007)
p1 Also at: Chengdu Institute of Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, No.9 Section 4, Renmin Nan Road, 610041 Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China.
p2 Also at: University of California Museum of Paleontology, 1101 VLSB, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720 USA.
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