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Sre Ambel, Koh Kong Province (November 14, 2018) - The circular and declaration issued on 10 July 2017 by the Ministry of Mines and Energy’s (MME) to stop all types of sand dredging activities in Sre Ambel River system in Koh Kong Province, have led to the renewal of the nesting beaches along the river. Thanks to heavy rain and floods, some of the beaches are coming back naturally. This is the result of the great efforts and success of Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in collaboration with Fishery Administration of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery to safeguard the Critically Endangered Royal Turtle nesting beaches.
The Royal Turtle has been designated as Cambodia’s National Reptile by the Royal Decree No. NS/RKT/0305/149 dated March 21, 2005 and categorized in the determination of fish species and products that are endangered by the Sub-decree No. 123/ANKr.BK dated August 12, 2009. Also known as Southern River Terrapin (Batagur affinis), it is one of the world’s 25 most endangered freshwater turtles and tortoises. It is listed on the IUCN Red List as Critically Endangered. A recent increase in sand mining along the Sre Ambel River system is putting this species at great risk of extinction.
Sre Ambel River system is a very important conservation site because it is the only place in Cambodia where Royal Turtles, Cambodia’s National Reptile, can be found. The decision of MME to stop all types of sand dredging activities in Sre Ambel River system in Koh Kong Province and ban all export reflects strong commitment from MME in avoiding the negative impacts from sand dredging activities on the environment, fisheries, local communities as well as the protection of biodiversity, including Royal Turtles.
“The survival of Royal turtle is very much dependent on nesting beaches, riparian forest, and flooded vegetation for their breeding ground” said Mr. Ken Sereyrotha, WCS Country Program Director. “I am so pleased to see the reformation of nesting beaches along this river after they have been destroyed by sand mining in the past decade. The return of these nesting beaches will be very important for the Royal Turtles we released in 2015 and 2017,” he added.
“FiA has been working very hard with MME on the cancellation of the sand mining in the river system,” said Mr. Ouk Vibol, Director of Fisheries Administration Conservation Department.
“In response to the MME’s Proclamation, FiA is now drafting a Ministerial Proclamation (Prakas) to put most sections of the Sre Ambel River system into a management zone for Royal Turtle and Siamese Crocodile. This Prakas will come into effect very soon,” he added.
Royal Turtle conservation would not be possible without support from Wildlife Reserves Singapore, National Geographic Society, Chicago Zoological Society, US Forest Service, Rainforest Trust, and Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund.
Kuch Sovithiea (Mr.)
Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)
Tel: 077 772 077; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org