The Chinese softshell turtle is said to be extensively farmed in China, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam for food, and while this specie, with the scientific name of Pelodiscus sinensis, has been introduced in the Philippines in the early 1900s, lately it has been reported by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) that it has been causing havoc in Central Luzon’s local fish and other aquatic animals.
Maximo Dichoso, DENR executive director, expressed alarm over the increasing complaints received by his office from fishpond owners and operators about the turtle preying on local fish species, and bangus and tilapia fingerlings in fishponds.
They likened the turtle menace to the ‘golden kuhol’ that wreaked havoc on rice farms during the 1980s. But this specie of turtle that grows to be about a foot long is carnivorous and aggressive, “preferring to forage at night to feed on fish, crustaceans, mollusks and insects.”
This alarming report has prompted DENR to order a team of biologists and conservation experts to conduct a six-month study to determine the impact of the softshell turtle on the environment and the local fishing industry of the affected provinces, and to identify wildlife management interventions from the government.
“We want to determine the rate of reproduction of this turtle species and come up with a regional policy on the allowable quota for its collection either for food or export,” Dichoso explained, noting that some private individuals have expressed willingness to harvest the turtles for export.
Thus, Dichoso warned the public against propagating or raising the animal as pet, citing that the reptile is considered “a threat to local biodiversity and a pest in the multimillion-peso fishing industries of Pampanga, Bulacan and Bataan.”
There is no doubt that flooding caused by heavy rainfall during storms and/or typhoons has contributed to the proliferation of these invasive species of turtles in fishponds.
For more information about softshell turtles in the Philippines, please visit this link: http://www.academia.edu/796918/The_Chinese_softshell_turtle_established_in_the_Philippines.