Nearly-extinct royal turtle killed by illegal fishing in southwestern Cambodia
Posted: 2017-Feb-17 13.00.07 UTC+0800
PHNOM PENH — A nearly-extinct female Royal Turtle was killed by illegal electro-fishing along the Kaong River in southwestern Cambodia's Koh Kong province last week, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)-Cambodia said in a press release Thursday.
The dead turtle was over 11 years old and weighed nine kilograms, the press release said, adding that the turtle was believed to be killed by illegal electro-fishing due to marks on its head.
The Royal Turtle, also known as Southern River Terrapin (Batagur affinis), is one of the world's most endangered freshwater turtles and is listed on the IUCN Red List as Critically Endangered.
It has been designated as Cambodia's national reptile by a royal decree in 2005.
The turtles face numerous threats to their survival due to habitat loss caused by sand dredging and illegal clearance of flooded forest and accidental capture or death through illegal fishing, the press release said.vThe dead turtle found last week was one of 21 Royal Turtles that the Fisheries Administration (FiA) and WCS conservation team released to the Kaong River in Sre Ambel district in 2015 with radio transmitters and ID micro-chips, it added.
"We are extremely sad that one of Royal Turtles we released was killed. Illegal fishing activities along the Kaong River are a big threat and could cause Cambodia's national reptile to disappear from Cambodia forever if we do not take immediate action to stop it," said Som Sitha, technical advisor to the WCS's Royal Turtle conservation project.
"I would highly encourage local authorities, communities and fishermen to participate in Royal Turtle conservation and stop using electro-fishing equipment to save Cambodia's Royal Turtle from extinction," he said.
Ouk Vibol, director of Fisheries Conservation Department with FiA, said to further protect the Royal Turtle and stop illegal fishing activities, FiA was developing a fisheries conservation and management zone in Sre Ambel district. (PNA)