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Indonesia 2013 Part 5 - Turtle soup, saving softshelled turtles

Indonesia 2013 Part 5 - Turtle soup, saving softshelled turtles

Kura Kura (Turtle) Soup

Sun 11-Nov-2012

Is turtle soup on the menu? Well it nearly was. I got to the restaurant where Artik works in the evening. They show me a bucket, inside is a rather unhappy looking Softshelled Turtle. As usual in these situations in Indonesia I assume that the word was out and another Kura Kura whistled up just for me, how wrong could I be? Making the most of the situation we take the turtle home. Next day I plan to measure, weigh and photograph it.

Mon 12-Nov-2012

This morning our softshelled friend is looking fine, if a little bored and resigned to his bucket fate. Now Artik informs me that the Kura Kura was found by builders near the restaurant. They were intending to take it home and make turtle soup. If Artik had not insisted that they should not kill it and leave it for me, our little turtle today would not be in a bucket but a builders stomach. I feel a little bad for taking free food away from the builders. At the same time this wonderful creature could have another 70 years head of it. I can see they would little understand why Artik was so instant, they probably think we took it home and now the turtle in our stomachs. Would they really think we were mad enough to take pictures and then put it back? Not really on the radar for a potentially starving builder.

We take it to a stream where photos are taken as I avoid its teeth and claws. I then go to take it to the water where it becomes excited and wants out. I release it onto the stream. Immediately with neck stretched out, it drives deep and vanishes. We then go home with a bucket full of turtle urine, and a camera full of saved and recorded turtle.

Artik had thought that we should keep him, her mind being on the captive breeding centre track. However I said that he would be better in the wild, if he could avoid builders stomachs. At least this turtle had a second chance because I was here in Bukit Lawang. I did mention Joko Guntoro's captive breeding centre but felt holding onto the poor thing for long enough for collection would be unfair, even assuming Joko would want it. Seeing the Kura Kura free, for the moment, hopefully for his lifetime, did make me feel a lot better, regardless of what a Indonesian builder may think of me.

Kura Kura Soup - 2nd turtle saved from the pot

Nov 30th

Arrived at the restaurant and another softshell turtle is waiting for me. This one is more aggressive. Was found in the stream next to the restaurant. They were going to make turtle soup but Artik told them not to. The others there tell me how nice it would have tasted. I take our turtle home. I weigh, measure and take photos.

Dec 1st

The turtle waits patiently all night. In the morning we take it to the stream that leads to the jungle and let it go. I leave the bucket laying down but it is almost as if it was resigned to being soup. Then it makes for the water with what looks like turtle surprise on its face.

All pictures here:   

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