Australia’s ambassador to Cambodia is in hot water for eating an endangered soft shell turtle and then tweeting pictures of his meal.

Pablo Kang, who has been Australia’s representative in Cambodia for four years, posted the image of an Asian giant softshell turtle he ate on a provincial visit in the country.

The species of freshwater turtle is regarded in Cambodia as a “high status” food.

It has largely become threatened because of its consumption as a local delicacy in Cambodia and other Southeast Asian countries where it is a native species.

The species disappeared from much of its former habitat last century and is now considered by some scientists to be endangered or at the very least a threatened species.

After coming under fire for eating a meal of one, Mr Kang deleted the tweet and issued a public apology on Twitter.

“Hello. I have removed my tweet about soft shell turtles & eels, and apologise to all those who took offence,” he tweeted.

“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.”

Mr Kang is an experienced diplomat and a former Australian Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, and Australian High Commissioner to Vanuatu.

His actions drew criticism on Twitter from environmentalists.

Adam Roberts Wildlife tweeted: “Really? Promoting consumption of endangered species and therefore the illegal wildlife trade? Not responsible actions from an Ambassador.”

Sam Leslie tweeted, “All Softshell Turtle species in SE Asia are listed as at least vulnerable, while others are endangered.

“Consumption is the number 1 threat, and demand is in part due to perception that it is a ‘high-status’ food, all the more reckless for an Ambassador to promote!”

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