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 Global threat to primates concerns us all
19.01.2017 | Deutsches Primatenzentrum GmbH - Leibniz-Institut für Primatenforschung

nachricht Reducing household waste with less energy
18.01.2017 | FIZ Karlsruhe – Leibniz-Institut für Informationsinfrastruktur GmbH

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: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New Study Will Help Find the Best Locations for Thermal Power Stations in Iceland

19.01.2017 | Earth Sciences

Not of Divided Mind

19.01.2017 | Life Sciences

Molecule flash mob

19.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>