Khmer Times/Ven Rathavong Tuesday, 13 September 2016
More than 200 critically endangered royal turtles will be moved to a new center in Koh Kong’s Mondol Seima district today with 13 Siamese crocodiles also being relocated.
Eng Mengey, communications officer for the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), said royal turtles were now facing threats to their survival because of habitat loss.
A total of 206 turtles, including babies, will be transferred to the new center as well as 13 Siamese crocodiles.
He added that the new Koh Kong Reptile Conservation Center was founded by the WCS and Fisheries Administration (FiA).
The royal turtle, also known as the southern river terrapin (Batagur affinis), was designated Cambodia’s national reptile in 2005. It was listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature earlier this year and added to their Red List of Threatened Species.
Mr. Mengey said the royal turtle was believed to be extinct in Cambodia until 2000, when the WCS and FiA discovered a small number of the turtles in Koh Kong province’s Sre Ambel district where the river meets the sea.
He said both institutions started protecting turtle nests and collected the babies for conservation at the old center in Sre Ambel district. They will be released into the wild once the turtles are better able to survive.
“We are transferring them to the new center because the old one is small and old and has been used for more than 10 years,” Mr. Mengey said. “The new center is bigger and of higher quality for feeding royal turtles’ babies and crossbreeding.” (more…)