At least 23 endangered “royal turtles” have successfully hatched in Cambodia, more than the number since the last 3 years combined. The rare turtles could breed after the local communities and the government put in dire conservation efforts to stop sand-dredging in its habitat in the Koh Kong province. In footage released online by the Wildlife Conservation Society, the researchers can be seen weighing and measuring the turtles at the end of April.
One of the world's 25 most threatened freshwater turtles, the royal turtles came from at least three nests on the beach visited by a few turtles regularly each year, as per local media reports. In a shocking, a few of the infant royal turtles hatched from two nests that weren’t visited by the turtles for almost 13 years. Until the re-emerged of the scant population in the Sre Ambel River in the year 2000, the royal turtles were almost declared extinct according to the Wildlife Conservation Society’s report.
Hatched in the region of southwestern Koh Kong province, the 13 of the 51 eggs elevated hopes for the survival of Cambodia’s national reptile which had disappeared due to Illegal fishing, reduction of flooded woodlands and sand-dredging along with the Sre Ambel river system, as per media reports.
Cambodia’s programme director for the Wildlife Conservation Society, Ken Sereyrotha, was quoted saying that with the ongoing support and cooperation, the authorities were hopeful that the number of turtles will continue to increase in the coming years. Earlier, a law was introduced in the year 2017 to stop sand-dredging which had been responsible for the loss of habitat of the royal turtles, pushing them to the brink of extinction, he added. The Sre Ambel River System is key to the survival of Royal Turtle because it has beaches, flooded forests, and mangroves where they can find their food and breed, Sereyrotha stressed.
Director of Fisheries Conservation Department of Fisheries Administration, Ouk Vibol, said that he was “extremely delighted” to witness the rise in the number of nests of the Royal Turtle in the region, local media reported. Further, he added, the Fisheries Administration would continue to put in efforts along with WCS to conserve Royal Turtles through habitat and beach protection, research and monitoring, and nest protection program.