Rare Turtles Killed to Make Viagra Soup

This tragic footage shows a bucket of dead sea turtles with their shells removed ready to be turned into a soup that five people now arrested claimed could improve male virility.

One of the tiny carcasses even had a geotag reading “Return to Turtle Islands Park, Sabbah-Malaysia” suggesting that at least one of the turtles had experienced kinder humans than those that ended its life – chopping off its fins and head after extracting it from its shell to make the soup.

Video Credit: AsiaWire/@DENR7Official

An eyewitness with a smartphone filmed the raid at an open-air restaurant in Cebu City on the island of Cebu in the Central Visayas Region of the Philippines.

Five vendors, Julio Abunta, Donesa Obatay Bustamante, Clifford Obatay, Cresley Obatay, and Ariesteo Pableo, were arrested after they were filmed selling ‘pawikan larang’ (sea turtle stew).

The operation was carried out by officers of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), working with cops and local government officials, after a tip off.

The vendors getting arrested

About 94.5 kilograms (208 lbs) of raw sea turtle meat, 20 kilograms (44 lbs) of stewed meat and six turtle heads were seized in the raid. The bodies of the dead animals minus shells can even be seen in a bucket in the footage.

The suspects were allegedly selling turtle stew for 90 PHP (1.35 GBP) per serving, and raw turtle meat for 200 PHP (3 GBP) per kilogramme.

It is not clear which species of sea turtle was involved but five of the seven known marine turtle species can be found in the Philippines.

The IUCN Red List classifies three species as either ‘endangered’ or ‘critically endangered’, while another three are classed as ‘vulnerable’.

The stew with raw turtle meat

One of the main threats is poaching and the illegal trade of turtle meat and eggs which are believed by some to have a similar effect to Viagra.

DENR Regional Executive Director Gilbert Gonzales said the suspects could face up to six years in jail and a fine of up to 50,000 PHP (750 GBP) if they are convicted of selling meat from protected wildlife.

The Department of Veterinary Medicine and Fisheries in Cebu City analysed the turtle heads and found two of them were from adult turtles, two from juveniles, one from a semi-adult, and the other from a yearling.

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Story By: Aloysius FernandesSub-Editor: Jamie King,  Agency: AsiaWire

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