Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Fresh hopes for species’ survival as 51 royal turtles released into the wild

Fresh hopes for species’ survival as 51 royal turtles released into the wild

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Fifty-one royal turtles were released into the wild, in northern Preah Sihanouk province’s Kampong Seila district on November 26. WCS CAMBODIA

Fresh hopes for species’ survival as 51 royal turtles released into the wild

Fifty-one royal turtles were released into the wild, in northern Preah Sihanouk province’s Kampong Seila district on November 26, by the Wildlife Conservation Society Cambodia Programme (WCS) and relevant government officials.

The event was accompanied by a ceremony, attended by Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries officials, local authorities, WCS representatives, Buddhist monks and locals.

WCS country director Ken Serey Rotha commented that conservationists had believed that royal turtles were extinct in the Kingdom, a presumption he said was rebuffed by a study back in 2000.

Also known as the southern river terrapin and by its scientific name Batagur affinis, the royal turtle is listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species as “critically endangered”, and was designated as Cambodia’s national reptile by a 2005 royal decree, according to the NGO.

Serey Rotha noted that November 26’s event marks the sixth of its kind under the associated conservation project, bringing the total number of freed royal turtles from 96 to 147.

He also credited the ministry’s Fisheries Administration (FiA) for working with the WCS on rare-species conservation.

Speaking at the ceremony, Kampong Seila district deputy governor Prak Sovann urged commune- and village-level authorities and the general public to join hands in the conservation of royal turtles.

“If we can protect these habitats, they’d provide enchanting eco-tourism spots,” he said. “Sightseers would visit the royal turtles in their own spaces, as well as the beautiful forests here in Kampong Seila.”

Sovann said he was committed to protecting the species and ensuring viable populations “at all costs”, and called on the public to report trapped turtles to the authorities, who will then prepare them for release back into the wild.

FiA director-general Pum Sotha said royal turtles are now only found in Cambodia, Indonesia and Malaysia, of which the Kingdom has the largest population.

“We must all come forward to protect them, and not merely be content with having the most, but failing to look after them,” he said.

Sotha also requested local authorities, the WCS and EU to look into building statues and other monuments across the Kingdom that are dedicated to the royal turtle and bear inscriptions that indicate the rarity and importance of the species.

MOST VIEWED

  • Massive stingrays may live in Mekong’s deep pools

    US scientists have suggested that unexplored deep pools in the Mekong River in an area of Stung Treng could potentially be home to significant populations of giant freshwater stingrays, one of the world’s largest freshwater fish species. This comes as a fisherman hooked a 180

  • PM takes time to meet, greet Cambodians living in the US

    After landing in the US ahead of the ASEAN-US Special Summit, Prime Minister Hun Sen was received by over 1,000 Cambodian-Americans including political analysts who welcomed him with greetings, fist bumps and selfies. Hun Sen also met with analyst Mak Hoeun, who had allegedly spoken ill

  • PM reflects on shoe throwing: Free speech or act of violence?

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on May 17 questioned whether a man who threw a shoe at him while he was in the US was exercising freedom of expression or if it was an act of hostility. Hun Sen was referring to an incident last week when

  • Chinese tourists 2.0 – Coming anytime soon?

    Regional tourism is grappling with the absence of the prolific travellers and big spenders – the Chinese tourists. Cambodia, which has welcomed over two million Chinese tourists before Covid-19, is reeling from the economic loss despite being the first to fully open last November ‘To put

  • Prime Minister Hun Sen warmly welcomed by president Biden

    Prime Minister Hun Sen, as ASEAN chair, and other ASEAN leaders were warmly welcomed by US president Joe Biden as the ASEAN-US summit May 12-13 kicked off today in Washington. “This evening, I welcomed ASEAN leaders to the White House for the first time in

  • Third Makro outlet planned for capital’s Chroy Changvar

    Makro (Cambodia) Co Ltd is set to invest $12.7 million in its third Cambodian outlet, this time in northeast Phnom Penh’s Chroy Changvar district, an area dotted with high-end residential developments, as shopping behaviours continue to evolve in tandem with economic growth. The Cambodian Investment