Turtle oblivion: the rise and fall of an Amazon trade

A shocking and distressing account of the brutality, cruelty and senseless stupidity of human kind. I just wish that kind was the operative word!

The World Elsewhere

During the nineteenth century a “war of extermination” was being raged against turtles in the Amazon basin, a slaughter so intense that contemporary observers saw the threat of extinction as a real and immediate danger. The reason? To provide fuel and feed the region’s ever-increasing influx of settlers, who ignored the sustainable turtle-harvesting practices of the native Indians and relentlessly pursued the arrau turtle (podocnemis expansa), the most prized of freshwater turtles. These reptiles are typically called the tartaruga grande, when mature reaching as much as to 90 kilos in weight and over one metre in length.

Often referred to as “the beef of the Amazon”, turtle meat leant itself, in the words of the nineteenth-century Brazilian natural historian and explorer Lopes Gonçalves, “to the most exquisite condiments”. Roasting was the most straightforward cooking method – and by some accounts the most delicious – although it…

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2 thoughts on “Turtle oblivion: the rise and fall of an Amazon trade

  1. https://theworldelsewhere.com/2019/04/18/turtle-oblivion-the-rise-and-fall-of-an-amazon-trade/comment-page-1/?unapproved=3179&moderation-hash=76f1968c0d20e531e3c4f56c8fec057b#comment-3179
    Here’s an article that you maybe need to read Neil. It might even chill your blood and waken some degree of empathy for the creatures we are so wantonly and cruelly destroying in such a barbarous fashion.
    I travelling to South America a few years back. I read the tales from the whalers from a couple of centuries back. It was teeming with life. They killed everything and took tons of fresh meat aboard. They went to the breeding grounds and slaughtered the young for fun. What is left is a barren vestige of what it had been two hundred years ago.
    But of course that is not true is it?

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