Australian Diplomat Apologises for Eating Turtle Delicacy in Cambodia

Different species of turtle are under threat or endangered across Southeast Asia.
September 17, 2020, 8:33am
Cambodia Australia turtle
Photo: AFP

Australia’s ambassador to Cambodia has apologised after eating softshell turtle and then posting photos of the meal on Twitter, saying he does not condone the harvesting of endangered species for food.

Ambassador Pablo Kang was in a remote province in Cambodia when he sampled a soup made with softshell turtle and eel meat. He deleted his Sept. 10 post praising the dish after environmentalists criticised him.

“I have removed my tweet about soft shell turtles & eels, and apologise to all those who took offence,” Kang said in his tweet. “My intent was not to promote these dishes, but to tell people about some of the foods I was offered during my recent provincial visit.”

“I certainly do not condone the harvesting of any endangered species for food or other purposes, and will be more careful about my actions in future.”

Softshell turtles are under threat across Asia due to habitat loss and egg harvesting, but in Cambodia they are also bred on farms and consuming them is not widely controversial.

The envoy travelled to Pailin, Battambang, Banteay Meanchey and Siem Reap provinces to oversee the Australian government’s COVID-19 response, the Australian Embassy told local media VOD, adding that the envoy does not condone eating endangered turtles.

“During his visit, Ambassador Kang was offered a dish containing soft shell turtle during an official meal. Ambassador Kang tried the dish out of courtesy to his host. He was assured it was farmed,” the embassy said.

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade did provide additional comments when contacted by VICE News.