Khouth Sophak Chakrya and Andrew Nachemson
The Phnom Penh Post, Fri, 17 February 2017
An extremely rare adult female Royal Turtle – one of 10 breeding females believed left in the wild – was found dead in Koh Kong’s Sre Ambel River last week, likely killed by illegal fishing methods, the World Conservation Society (WCS) said yesterday.
A press release put out by the group said the 11-year-old female turtle was found with wounds consistent with electro-fishing.
The Royal Turtle “is one of the world’s most endangered turtles and faces numerous threats to its survival”, the release states, listing sand dredging and illegal fishing as primary threats.
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…)