Koh Kong (Feb 12, 2020) – As of January 2020, conservationists from the local communities, Fisheries Administration and WCS found three nests of Royal Turtle with a total of 51 eggs in the Sre Ambel River System. During the previous four years only one nest was found each year. This success comes after the release of the circular and Prakas (announcement) dated July 10, 2017 by the Ministry of Mines and Energy on the resolution to stop all sand dredging business along the Sre Ambel River System, and the Prakas No. 133 dated March 6, 2019 by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries on the inclusion of Sre Ambel River System as Fisheries Management and Conservation Area for conservation of Royal Turtle and Siamese Crocodile. .
“The Sre Ambel River System is key to the survival of Royal Turtle because it has beaches, flooded forest and mangrove where they can find their food and breed,” said Ken Sereyrotha, WCS Country Program Director.
“The increase in the nests resulted from (i) the decision made by the government to end sand dredging business and include the Sre Ambel River System as protected area for Royal Turtles and (ii) the recent release of 86 Royal Turtles into the river by WCS in collaboration with the Fisheries Administration.”
The Southern River Terrapin, Batagur affinis or locally known as Royal Turtle, is one of the world’s 25 most endangered freshwater turtles and tortoises. It is listed on the IUCN Red List as Critically Endangered.
Mr. Ouk Vibol, Director of Fisheries Conservation Department of Fisheries Administration, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said, “The Royal Turtle has been designated as Cambodia’s National Reptile by Royal Decree issued in 2005 and is protected by sub-decree No. 123 dated August 12, 2009—a fishery resource which is classified as endangered in Cambodia.”
“I am really happy that MAFF issued the Prakas No. 133 which will not allow illegal fishing or illegal sand dredging activities along the rivers of Kampong Som, Prek Kaaong and Kampong Leu,” Mr. Vibol said, adding that the Fisheries Administration actively worked with WCS to conserve Royal Turtles through habitat and beach protection, research and monitoring, nest protection program, establishment of Community Fisheries, and improvement of community livelihoods.
WCS wishes to thank Wildlife Reserves Singapore, Rainforest Trust, European Union, US Forest Service, and Turtle Survival Alliance for their continued support for Royal Turtle conservation.
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