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A Royal Homecoming

November 14, 2017

Wqhoof47n royal turtle at the koh kong reptile conservation center cropped
Photo Credit: ©WCS Cambodia

WCS and partners recently released 25 critically endangered royal turtles into their natural habitat in the Sre Ambel river system—the only place in Cambodia where these turtles are found. The animals were fitted with acoustic transmitters to help conservationists track them in the wild and learn more about how best to protect them.

This species was believed extinct in Cambodia until a small population was rediscovered in the year 2000 by WCS and Cambodia's Fisheries Administration. The species is still known locally in Cambodia as the "royal turtle" because historically the eggs were considered a delicacy protected for the king. More recently, however, they have been pushed to the brink of extinction largely due to unsustainable harvesting of both eggs and adults.

“We are optimistic about this release because we succeeded in 2015 when we released 21 royal turtles into the Sre Ambel system. After two years of regular monitoring, we found that over 85 percent of them are still alive,” said Som Sitha, WCS’s Technical Advisor to Koh Kong Conservation Project.

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