Three rare Royal Turtle nests were discovered along the bank of Sre Ambel River in Koh Kong province by conservationists last month, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society.
WCS in a statement yesterday said the nests contained 51 Royal Turtle eggs.
“This success comes after […] the Mines and Energy Ministry 2017 resolution stopping all sand dredging operations along the Sre Ambel river system,” it said. “In the previous four years, only one nest was discovered in each year.”
The Royal Turtle, or Batagur affinis, is an endangered species, listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List as “critically endangered”.
Ken Sereyrotha, programme director for WCS, said the river is key to the survival of the turtles because it consists of beaches and flooded mangrove forests, where the turtles can find food and breed.
“The increase in nests resulted from the decision made by the government to end sand dredging operations and the listing of the Sre Ambel River System as a protected area,” Mr Sereyrotha said. “It is also because of the recent release of 86 Royal Turtles into the river by WCS and Fisheries Administration officials.”
Ouk Vibol, director of the Fisheries Administration, yesterday in a press release said a Royal Decree in 2005 recognised Royal Turtles as the Kingdom’s national reptile.
Mr Vibol said the turtles gained protected status through a 2009 government sub-decree.
“I am happy [the Mines and Energy Ministry] prohibited illegal fishing and illegal sand dredging along the rivers of Kampong Som, Prek Kaong and Kampong Loeu,” he said, adding the Administration is working with WCS to conserve Royal Turtles through habitat protection, research and monitoring.
Last month, WCS Cambodia, the Fisheries Administration and the Ministry of Agriculture, in collaboration with Wildlife Reserves Singapore, released 20 Royal Turtles into the Sre Ambel River system.