First Asian Giant Softshell Turtle Nest of the Season Found in the Mekong River

A nest of the globally Endangered Asian Giant Softshell Turtle was found so far this season on a sandbar on the Mekong between Kratie and Stung Treng, according to Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)'s press release AKP received this morning.

It was discovered by a group of conservationists of Fisheries Administration (FiA), and local communities and WCS' staffs.

From now until June is the breeding period of the Asian Giant Softshell Turtle. This is the first nest we have found so far this year. We will work hard with FiA and local communities to find more nests along the Mekong River and protect them from egg collection, said Mr. Som Sitha, WCS' Technical Advisor to the Turtle Conservation Project.

The Asian Giant Softshell Turtle is a very rare species that will become extinct in the near future if we do not take proper action to conserve them. There are not many individuals left. Everyone can help conserve the species by not buying or eating their meat or eggs, he added.

This is the only remaining area in the country where these huge turtles still breed. This nest is now being protected by local communities until all eggs are hatched and the hatchlings will be then released into the river.

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 rediscovery in 2007 in a 48-kilometre stretch of the river in Kratie and Stung Treng provinces. The Mekong Turtle Conservation Project was formerly managed by Conservation International (CI), but in 2017 it was transferred to WCS, with collaboration from FiA and the Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA). The community-based protection programme encourages the participation of local communities living in Kratie and Stung Treng provinces by hiring former nest collectors to search for and protect nests, instead of harvesting the eggs. Since 2007, 378 nests have been protected and 8,528 hatchlings released.

Source: Agency Kampuchea Press