A Nest of Critically Endangered Royal Turtle Found in Sre Ambel River System

AKP Phnom Penh, February 19, 2018 —

A nest of the Critically Endangered Royal Turtle with 16 eggs has been discovered by conservationists from Fisheries Administration (FiA), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), and local communities along Sre Ambel River system near Preah Angkeo Village, Sre Ambel district of Koh Kong rovince.

From January to March is the Royal Turtle’s breeding period, so the conservationist team is working hard to search for its nests in the Sre Ambel River system, said Mr. In Hul, FiA Official and Project Coordinator.

“We also conducted outreach so that local villagers living around the river are aware of the importance of the Royal Turtle because it is Cambodia’s National Reptile and a Critically Endangered species. Collection of eggs or adults for consumption or sale is illegal in Cambodia,” he added.

Mr. Som Sitha, WCS’ Technical Advisor to the Koh Kong Conservation Project, said the Royal Turtle, re-discovered in 2000, is still at high risk of extinction. The number of nests found each year is very low, with just three nests in the last two years.

“Illegal clearance of flooded forest and illegal fishing puts this species at risk. Everyone can help conserve our national reptile by not purchasing or eating their meat and eggs,” he underlined.

The Royal Turtle or Southern River Terrapin (Batagur affinis) was listed on IUCN’s Red List as Critically Endangered. It is one of the world’s 25 most endangered tortoises and freshwater turtles. The Royal Turtle is so named because in historical times only the Royal Family could consume its eggs. It is designated as Cambodia’s National Reptile by Royal Decree issued on Mar. 21, 2005.

Royal Turtle was believed extinct in Cambodia until 2000 when a small population was re-discovered by FiA and WCS in the Sre Ambel River. In 2001, WCS in partnership with the FiA started a community-based protection system in Sre Ambel, hiring former nest collectors to search for and protect nests, instead of harvesting the eggs.

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(Photo: WCS)

By Khan Sophirom

 

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