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Today, VietnamNet Bridge reminds us of the persistent threat to biodiversity from non-native species in Vietnam.
Photo courtesy of Vietnamnet.vn
Two to three years ago it was popular to keep red-eared turtles as pets in Vietnam as they are a fairly hardy species that can cope in a range of diverse habitats. The red-eared turtles were sold in ornamental aquatic shops at incredibly cheap prices – around 40.000 VND (US$20). Young people and housewives in particular bought the turtles to keep them as pets at home or, in some cases, set them free on the July 15 Lunar Calendar, a traditional Vietnamese festival.
Concern among scientists increased, as the red-eared turtle, if released from captivity, has the potential the pose a serious threat to native Vietnamese turtles. The red-eared turtle is extremely greedy and strong compared to native turtles, increasing the risk that native turtles could be hybridized and increasingly unable to compete for food.
Ultimately, Vietnam’s biodiversity will bear the consequences of keeping non-native species as pets and ornaments. While some mass media campaigns have successfully prompted boycotts of such trends, there is still a long way to go!