Khouth Sophak Chakrya and Yesenia Amaro
The Phnom Penh Post, Thu, 11 May 2017
After spending the last three months under the watchful eye of their own personal retinue of bodyguards, nine endangered royal turtles successfully broke free from their shells on Tuesday and were transferred to the Koh Kong Reptile Conservation Centre, where they will be raised.
The nest of the critically endangered Batagur affinis turtle was discovered in February by a villager along the Kaong River in Koh Kong, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) said yesterday. The Fisheries Administration and the WCS built a fence to protect the eggs and hired four villagers to guard the nest in Sre Ambel district’s Preah Ang Keo village until the eggs hatched, said Eng Mengey, WCS’s communications officer.
“There are only a few royal turtles left in the wild,” Mengey said. The royal turtle is classified as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which tracks threatened species. Five other eggs in the nest did not hatch.
The turtle was believed extinct in Cambodia until 2000, when a small population was discovered by the Fisheries Administration and WCS in the Sre Ambel River system, Mengey said.
There are now 216 royal turtles living at the Koh Kong centre, and another 27 at the Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity, Mengey said.
Fisheries Administration official Ouk Vibol said some 20 young royal turtles will be released into the wild in June or July.
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…)