Conservationists from Fisheries Administration (FiA), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and community members have found 20 nests of Asian Giant Softshell Turtle containing 663 eggs on sand bars along the Mekong River in Kratie province in its nesting season in 2018, said a WCS' press release AKP received here this morning.
In total, we have found 35 nests, but eggs of 15 nests were already illegally taken away when we arrived. We are now protecting 20 nests with 663 eggs until they hatch. Four community members are now working hard to protect these nests, Mr. Nguon Chanti, WCS Project Coordinator for the Asian Giant Softshell Turtle Project.
As of March, 132 turtles have hatched from the protected nests. We are rearing them and will release them into the river soon, he added.
The turtle nest protection programme is a part of a project implemented by WCS in collaboration with the FiA and Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA). This programme encourages the participation of local communities living in Kratie and Stung Treng provinces by hiring former egg collectors to search for and protect nests, instead of harvesting the eggs.
Market demand leads to illegal egg and adult collection of Asian Giant Softshell Turtle along the Mekong River. This is a big concern for this species conservation, said Mr. Ouk Vibol, Director of Fisheries Conservation Department of FiA.
Increasing awareness on the endangered fisheries species as well as participation in conservation from local authorities and communities is a very good solution to protect the species for next generation. Please help protect the Asian Giant Softshell Turtle by not buying and eating its eggs and wild meat. Collection of eggs or adults for consumption or sale is illegal in Cambodia, he added
The Asian Giant Softshell Turtle (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 re-discovery in 2007 in a 48-kilometre stretch of the river in Kratie and Stung Treng provinces.
Source: Agency Kampuchea Press