Release of rare turtle in Quirino postponed

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CABARROGUIS, Quirino: The release of a very rare and regarded as endangered soft-shelled turtle to its habitat in the Addalam River here was postponed for tourists to have a good look of its broad head, short snout and frog-like facial features.

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The release was postponed following the request of barangay officials and residents to show the turtle first to local tourists who are visiting their place and to have a closer view of the turtle.

Ric Antonino, DENR information officer, said the DENR granted the barangay officials’ request to postpone the release for a few days on conditions that the residents must provide a comfortable place and sufficient food (grass and rice) for the turtle.

The freshwater soft-shelled turtle caught by a resident while fishing at the Addalam River is 54 by 44 centimeters identified as Pelochelys cantorii specie, or Asian giant soft- shell turtle.

The residents said this is not their first time to what is also known as pan cake turtles like this being accidentally caught by fishermen.

They said previous ones were returned back to the river because they have been promoting the Addalam River in their barangay as Kaggot—the residents’ local term for the soft-shelled turtle—sanctuary.

They said this species used to come out every October and they are usually seen swimming in the crystal-clear water under their hanging bridge.

The said turtle is now in the custody of one of the barangay councilors to ensure that it will be cared for well.

Soft-shell turtles are eaten as a delicacy in most parts of their range, particularly in East Asia. A Chinese dish stews them with chicken.

Guangdong restaurants had them imported in large numbers; eaten stewed with almonds, roasted with chili sauce or fried with bamboo shoots, they were considered a great delicacy.

They are also sold via Philippine classified advertisement websites ranging from P350 to P10,000 per piece.

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