Nest of globally endangered turtle species spotted in Cambodia

Nest of globally endangered turtle species spotted in Cambodia

Phnom Penh, Dec 20 (IANS) A nest of the globally endangered Asian giant softshell turtle was found on a sandbar on the Mekong river in Cambodia, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) said.

This is the only remaining area in the country where these huge turtles still breed. This nest was now being protected by native communities until all the eggs hatch and the hatchlings are released into the river.

The Asian giant softshell turtle or Pelochelys cantorii is listed on the IUCN Red list as globally endangered.

It was thought extinct in the Cambodian portion of the Mekong river until its rediscovery in 2007 in a 48-km river stretch in Kratie and Stung Treng provinces.

The Mekong Turtle Conservation Project, formerly managed by Conservation International, was transferred to the WCS this year, with collaboration from the Fisheries Administration and the Turtle Survival Alliance.

The community-based protection programme encourages the participation of the communities living in Kratie and Stung Treng provinces by hiring former nest collectors to search for and protect nests, instead of harvesting the eggs.

Since 2007, a total of 378 nests have been protected and 8,528 hatchlings released.

"From now until June is the breeding period of the Asian giant softshell turtle. This is the first nest we have found so far this year. We will work hard with the Fisheries Administration and local communities to find more nests along the Mekong river and protect them from egg collection," Som Sitha, WCS's Technical Advisor to the Turtle Conservation Project, said.

"The Asian giant softshell turtle is a very rare species that will become extinct in the near future if we do not take proper action to conserve them. There are not many individuals left. Everyone can help conserve the species by not buying or eating their meat or eggs."

--IANS

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