The species, also known as the royal turtle in Cambodia, has successfully laid eggs in captivity at the center for three years.
The Koh Kong Reptile Conservation Center (KKRCC) announced that 122 Southern River terrapins (Batagur affinis) hatched on an artificial sand bank at Cambodia’s Koh Kong Reptile Conservation Center (KKRCC) so far in 2023. The center is located in the country’s Koh Kong province.
The species, also known as the royal turtle in Cambodia, has successfully laid eggs in captivity at the center for three years, according to a Xinhua report detailing the hatching event. This year, the captive breeding group at the KKRCC laid 21 clutches totalling 272 eggs. Of the 272 eggs, 122 hatched.
This is great news considering 20 critically endangered royal turtles were released March 22 into the Sre Ambel River system in Koh Kong Province’s Sre Ambel district.
“This is a great result and a good example in the conservation of Royal Turtles in Cambodia,” Cambodian Ministry of Environment’s Secretary of State Neth Pheaktra told Xinhua. “We strongly support the continuation of this captive breeding program for restoring this critically endangered species in the future, and we hope this species will survive for our next generations.”
About the Southern River Terrapin
The turtle, also called the Southern River terrapin, is one of the 25 most endangered turtles in the world. It is called the Royal Turtle by the local population because in the past, only the Cambodian royal family could eat its eggs. It was designated as Cambodia’s National Reptile by Royal Decree in March 2005. It was thought to have gone extinct until a small population was rediscovered in 2000. That population was found in the Sre Ambel River in Koh Kong province.
The population of these turtles have declined due to illegal clearance of flooded forests and illegal fishing, according to Wildlife Conservation Society Cambodia. Since 2015, 167 royal turtles have been released back into the wild. The KKRCC currently has about 282 royal turtles in its possession.