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After visiting the various markets in China, what conclusions can one make about the ongoing situation there? The following are some thoughts:
1. The turtle and tortoise confiscation in Hong Kong in December 2001 was just a proverbial drop in the bucket in terms of the numbers of animals flowing into the markets in China. While the confiscation, and perceived fear of future ones, may have slowed things down for a few months, things had apparently returned to normal by March, 2002
2. With chelonian species literally being discovered/rediscovered in the animal markets, it is apparent that a wide range of previously untouched habitat is now being collected in order to fill demand. While geneticists are working nonstop at various facilities to try to answer a number of taxonomic riddles (such as the genus's Cuora and Cyclemys), the lack of even basic locality data hampers these efforts. Future reintroduction efforts are also severely hampered by a lack of basic habitat and dietary information for a large number of species.
3. While captive breeding is quickly supplanting wild caught stock, there are still a tremendous number of species for which farming techniques need to be developed if current market demand is to be met. For example, for every captive bred hatchling of species such as Cuora galbinifrons or Indotestudo elongata, there are literally thousands of wild caught animals of these species flowing through the markets into the food, pet, and/or medicinal trade while for other species such as Mauremys mutica and Pseudemys scripta elegans, it appears captive breeding is coming close to meeting demand.
4. The regulations known as CITES were not designed for in-country consumption of wildlife and appear to be at best less than effective in stemming international trade in a number of species from area countries.
So what are the answers? We don't even start to claim that we have them, but hope that after viewing the preceding pages, you have learned a bit more about the animal markets of China.
= Steve Battke and Jason Newsted =
Endless thanks to Darrell Senneke, World Chelonian Trust Director, for his tireless efforts and advice in constructing this site as well as providing it a home.
Our thanks also to those individuals who have contributed to this site through pictures as well as editorial comments.
And last but not least, our thanks go out to those that have been working to educate the public about the Asian markets for years.
(If you would be willing to translate this and possibly other articles in the future so we may more effectively present them, please contact us at: Webmaster@chelonia.org . High priority languages that are not currently being processed are Chinese, Japanese, German, and Italian, (Others would be gratefully appreciated as well.)
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World Chelonian Trust
PO Box 1445