Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

One of World’s Rarest Turtles Heading Back to the Wild

16.07.2015

Wildlife Conservation Society and the Royal Government of Cambodia’s Fisheries Administration announced today that 21 captive-raised southern river terrapins have been released back into their native habitat in southwest Cambodia.

  • Species believed extinct in Cambodia until rediscovery in 2000
  • “Royal Turtle” given royal send-off

Southern river terrapin. Photo credit : Thida Leiper

WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) and the Royal Government of Cambodia’s Fisheries Administration announced today that 21 captive-raised southern river terrapins have been released back into their native habitat in southwest Cambodia. More than 150 villagers, government representatives, and religious leaders attended ceremonies for the release.

Southern river terrapins were believed extinct in Cambodia until 2000 when a small population was re-discovered by WCS in the Sre Ambel River system. Today, they are critically endangered and considered one of the world's 25 most endangered tortoises and freshwater turtles.

The species is still known locally in Cambodia as the "Royal Turtle" because historically it was protected by royal decree and the eggs were considered a delicacy reserved for the king. More recently, southern river terrapins have been pushed to the brink of extinction largely due to unsustainable harvesting of eggs and adults. Consequently, they exist only in small isolated populations and there are less than 500 wild nesting females in total.

In 2001, WCS in partnership with the Fisheries Administration instated a community-based protection system in Sre Ambel, hiring former nest collectors to search for and protect nests, instead of harvesting the eggs. Since then, 39 nests with a total of 564 eggs have been protected and have resulted in 382 hatchlings.

Because young terrapins are vulnerable to predators such as water birds and monitor lizards, and to accidental entanglement in fishing gear, WCS and the Fisheries Administration began a program in 2006 to “headstart” the turtles and increase their chance of survival. After turtles hatched from protected enclosures on a sandbar, they were transferred to a facility and raised for several years in captivity. This enabled them to reach a size where they would be less prone to predation upon release.

"We are very hopeful for the future of Cambodia's Royal Turtle,” said Heng Sovannara, Deputy Director of the Conservation Department of Fisheries Administration and Project Manager for WCS. "Although we find very few nests each year due to the rarity of the species, we have been very successful with protecting wild nests and raising the hatchlings. We are now ready to return some of the terrapins back to the wild where they came from so that they can breed and start to restore the wild population.”

The turtles were chosen for release based on a genetic analysis carried out at the National University of Singapore supported by Wildlife Reserves Singapore. This analysis determined how closely the turtles were related to one another. The turtles most distantly related were picked for release to limit potential negative effects of inbreeding.

After undergoing health examinations by veterinarians with the WCS Bronx Zoo Zoological Health Program and the WCS Wildlife Health and Health Policy Program, and field laboratory testing by a New York Aquarium veterinary technician, all 21 terrapins were fitted with transmitters to allow researchers to monitor their survival and seasonal movements, and to understand their habitat use within the wider river system. Following a traditional ceremony in a nearby village to bestow blessings on the terrapins for their survival and reproduction, the terrapins were placed in a soft release enclosure (a large oxbow lake fenced off from the river) to allow them to adjust to their new environment. They will be released into the wider river system later this month.

"This is an important year for the southern river terrapin," said WCS Regional Herpetologist, Dr. Steven Platt. "We have just trebled the wild population of the species in the first of a series of releases which we hope will restore it to its former function within the landscape.”

The project will be expanded in the coming year. Plans are underway to develop a new facility in Koh Kong Province to expand our headstarting program as well as breed southern river terrapins in captivity, along with other endangered species such as the Siamese crocodile (Crocodylus siamensis). WCS and the Cambodian Fisheries Administration have partnered with the Turtle Survival Alliance, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, and Building Trust International to develop a sustainably-designed facility that will house a greater number of animals and encourage natural breeding. This will enable the project to supplement the wild population on a larger scale.

"We hope that this project can serve as a model for other turtle conservation recovery efforts where populations are so low that their continued survival depends on hands-on management of all life stages," said Andrew Walde, Executive Director of the Turtle Survival Alliance.

“The conservation of Asia’s turtles is a top priority for WCS,” said WCS Freshwater Turtle and Tortoise Coordinator Dr. Brian D. Horne. “We have long partnered with the Fisheries Administration on the conservation of the southern river terrapin but our new partnerships with Wildlife Reserves Singapore and the Turtle Survival Alliance will enable us to be more effective in our efforts to recover this iconic species to its full ecological role.”

WCS will continue to encourage and empower local communities to protect this emblematic species with support from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, United States Fish and Wildlife Service - Critically Endangered Animals Conservation Fund, SOS - Save Our Species, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, Turtle Conservation Fund, and the Turtle Survival Alliance.

WCS has worked in partnership with the Royal Government of Cambodia’s Fisheries Administration of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries for more than 15 years. All activities are conducted in close collaboration with the Conservation Department, whose mandate is to manage Cambodia's endangered aquatic species.

Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)
MISSION: WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature. VISION: WCS envisions a world where wildlife thrives in healthy lands and seas, valued by societies that embrace and benefit from the diversity and integrity of life on earth. To achieve our mission, WCS, based at the Bronx Zoo, harnesses the power of its Global Conservation Program in more than 60 nations and in all the world’s oceans and its five wildlife parks in New York City, visited by 4 million people annually. WCS combines its expertise in the field, zoos, and aquarium to achieve its conservation mission. Visit: www.wcs.org ; http://www.facebook.com/TheWCS ; http://www.youtube.com/user/WCSMedia  Follow: @TheWCS and @WCSMyanmar.


Associated links
WCS article
See the story on YouTube

Stephen Sautner | ResearchSEA

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Preservation of floodplains is flood protection
27.09.2017 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Conservationists are sounding the alarm: parrots much more threatened than assumed
15.09.2017 | Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

Im Focus: New nanomaterial can extract hydrogen fuel from seawater

Hybrid material converts more sunlight and can weather seawater's harsh conditions

It's possible to produce hydrogen to power fuel cells by extracting the gas from seawater, but the electricity required to do it makes the process costly. UCF...

Im Focus: Small collisions make big impact on Mercury's thin atmosphere

Mercury, our smallest planetary neighbor, has very little to call an atmosphere, but it does have a strange weather pattern: morning micro-meteor showers.

Recent modeling along with previously published results from NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft -- short for Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry and...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

Conference Week RRR2017 on Renewable Resources from Wet and Rewetted Peatlands

28.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A single photon reveals quantum entanglement of 16 million atoms

16.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

The melting ice makes the sea around Greenland less saline

16.10.2017 | Earth Sciences

On the generation of solar spicules and Alfvenic waves

16.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>