A critically endangered southern river terrapin pictured in Koh Kong province. WCS
Brent Crane and Phak Seangly
The Phnom Penh Post, Tue, 26 April 2016
There may be “fewer than 10” breeding female royal turtles left in Cambodia, a conservation group that monitors the critically endangered species warned yesterday.
Cambodia’s national reptile, the royal turtle, also known as the southern river terrapin (Batagur affinis), faces threats against “its very survival due to habitat loss caused by increased sand dredging and illegal clearance of flooded forest”, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), a US-based group with an active branch in Cambodia, said in a press release.
The turtle, now believed to exist only along the Sre Ambel River in Koh Kong province, has long been among the world’s most endangered turtle species.
“These forest habitats are key for their survival, providing shelter and diverse food for their diet,” explained Som Sitha, a technical adviser with WSC’s Sre Ambel Conservation Project.
“Sand dredging is further threatening their survival. It causes so much river bank erosion . . . destroying nesting beaches and devastating [wetland] forest, which is the source of their food,” he said.
According to Sarah Brook, another WSC technical adviser, the turtles lay their eggs along riverbanks, which can be ruined by sand dredging. “[Dredging] can really change the structure and sediment load of the river,” she added.
Brook added that while a previous WSC and Fisheries Administration (FiA) search had found four royal turtle nests by May of last year, a team looking this year had only found one so far. “[It’s] a big reduction given how rare they are already,” she said.
Prime Minister Hun Sen banned sand dredging in 2011 after public outcry over its environmental impacts. Since then, however, a small number of firms have continued to operate under specific licences granted by the Ministry of Mines and Energy. (more…)
An elephant lies on the ground in Siem Reap last week after it passed away from a heart attack caused by heat and exhaustion. Photo supplied
Thik Kaliyann and Alessandro Marazzi Sassoon
The Phnom Penh Post, Mon, 25 April 2016
A female elephant named Sambo, trained to carry tourists at Angkor Wat, collapsed and died on Friday morning near Bakheng Mountain in the archaeological park.
The 40-to-45-year-old elephant had worked for the Angkor Elephant Company since 2001, according to manager Oan Kiri, who said the company was saddened by the loss.
According to Kiri, Sambo died after taking two trips from Bayon Temple to Bakheng, having walked about 40 minutes, collapsing shortly after bringing a pair of tourists to Bayon.
“After our veterinarian checked . . . we concluded that she died of heart attack due to high temperatures and lack of wind,” he said. Siem Reap recorded a high of 40 degrees Celsius on Friday.
A Facebook post showing photos of Sambo on the ground has been shared over 8,000 times. A change.org petition calling for the end of elephant riding in Angkor went online shortly thereafter and has garnered more than 10,000 signatures.
Apsara Authority spokeswoman Chau Sun Kerya declined to comment.
Jack Highwood of the Elephant Valley Project, said in an email that the Angkor elephant company’s 13 remaining individuals represent the largest concentration of captive elephants in the Kingdom and that work conditions should be regulated “if working Cambodia’s last remaining elephants is what Cambodia actually wants to do”.
Whether one is rich or poor, educated or illiterate, religious or nonbelieving, man or woman, black, white, or brown, we are all the same. Physically, emotionally, and mentally, we are all equal. We all share basic needs for food, shelter, safety, and love. We all aspire to happiness and we all shun suffering. Each of us has hopes, worries, fears, and dreams. Each of us wants the best for our family and loved ones. We all experience pain when we suffer loss and joy when we achieve what we seek. On this fundamental level, religion, ethnicity, culture, and language make no difference. ~Dalai Lama XIV