Critically Endangered Cambodian Royal Turtle Nest Discovered
February 20, 2018
A nest of a turtle species thought to have disappeared in Cambodia until they were rediscovered in 2001, has been found in the Sre Ambel River System, according to the Wildlife Conservation (WCS) Society Cambodia.
Conservationists with the Fisheries Administration (FiA), WCS in the Southeast Asian country found 16 eggs in a nest of the critically endangered Royal Turtle (Batagur affinis) near the village of Preah Angkeo, in the Sre Ambel District of Koh Kong Province.
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The eggs will be guarded by four community rangers until they hatch. It marks the first Royal Turtle nest found in 2018.
“From January until March is the Royal Turtle’s breeding period, so our team is working hard to search for its nests in the Sre Ambel River system. If we find a nest, we will work with the local community to protect it until the eggs hatch and then bring the hatchlings to Koh Kong Reptile Conservation Center where they will be cared for until they are mature and can be released back to the wild,” Mr. In Hul, an FiA official and project coordinator said in a statement released by WCS Cambodia.
“We also conduct 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 said.
The turtle, also called the Southern River terrapin, is one of the 25 most endangered turtles in the world. It is called the Royal Turtle by the local population because in the past, only the Cambodian royal family could eat its eggs. It was designated as Cambodia’s National Reptile by Royal Decree in March 2005.
The number of nests discovered is very low, with only three discovered in the last two years. The population of these turtles have declined due to illegal clearance of flooded forests and illegal fishing, according to WCS Cambodia.