Slow and Steady - Losing the Race? Chinese Culture and the Survival of the Turtle Open Access

Anderson, Mary Renwick (2016)

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This is a study exploring unsustainable Chinese cultural practices evolving around the turtle. The analysis of the history of the three main aspects in Chinese culture rooted in the turtle--traditional Chinese medicine, the Chinese pet industry, and Chinese food consumption--highlight the significance of the turtle in Chinese cultural tradition and reasons for the increased demand today. The consequences of turtle consumption in the three areas above, in both the environment and the health sector, are examined through study of turtle aquaculture. The discussion of the impacts turtle farming has had on the environment, communities, and native turtle populations due to demand from Chinese culture practices is followed by an analysis of the current efforts by Asian countries to make turtle consumption sustainable, particularly through policy and innovative turtle farming techniques. This study also identifies the reasons for the shrinking turtle populations, zooming in on the unsustainable, unregulated practices in turtle aquaculture resultant from Chinese culture pressures. The study points out that turtle consumption and its impact on the environment are a complicated issue involving cultural traditions, folk practices, government policies, social developmental goals, and individual preferences and desires. The study argues that turtles have had a long tradition in Chinese culture and have been integrated into Chinese daily life. If turtles are to continue to live outside myth, history books, and grandma's stories, concerted efforts between the government, turtle farmers, traders, and individual consumers are indispensable for developing policies, guidelines, and practices to sustain the turtle population.

Table of Contents

Introduction. 1

Chapter One: History of Chinese Culture and Turtle Demand. 9

A. Chinese Divination and the Writing System. 10

B. Traditional Chinese Medicine. 12

C. Pet Trade and Fangsheng. 15

D. Chinese Food Culture. 19

E. The Growing Demand. 21

Chapter Two: Consequences of Chinese Culture Surrounding the Turtle. 30

A. International Pressures. 31

B. Decline in Asian Turtle Population. 33

C. Turtle Farming: the Lesser of Two Evils. 39

D. United States and China. 44

E. The Spread of Disease and Invasive Species. 47

Chapter Three: How to Sustain Chinese Culture and the Turtle. 51

A. Government Solutions. 52

B.Adequacy of Solutions - Evidence 55

C. Model Aquaculture: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. 58

D. Alternative Solutions. 60

Conclusion. 65

Bibliography. 70

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