World Turtle Day

May 23, 2019

Photo Credit: ©Sitha Som/WCS

This World Turtle Day, WCS and Cambodia's Department of Fisheries Conservation will release 200 endangered Cantor's giant softshell turtles into the Mekong River.

All of the hatchlings that will be released are between 15 and 30 days old. In order to improve survivorship, these hatchlings were collected by WCS nest protection teams immediately after emerging from the sand, when they are most vulnerable, so that they could be released along safer turtle nesting beaches.

WCS has five community nest protection teams, each tasked with searching for the turtle’s eggs and protecting them until the eggs hatch. Then, the teams build a temporary wooden pen to keep and feed them for about two weeks before releasing them into the wild.

From 2007 to 2019, the teams have found 449 nests (12,985 eggs) at 60 different locations across two provinces. With good care, 10,128 (or 78%) of the total have successfully hatched. This figure includes the 1,005 hatchlings protected by the teams during the current nesting season, which started in November and runs through May.

This weekend's release will be the fourth one this year. Approximately 800 Cantor’s giant softshell turtle hatchlings have been set free in the Mekong River each year since 2007.

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