An extremely rare "royal" turtle narrowly escaped a trip to a Chinese soup-pot, thanks to a tiny microchip implanted in its skin, according to experts from the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), who rediscovered the species four years ago in Cambodia.
Wildlife inspectors discovered the 33-pound (15 kg) turtle in a crate of confiscated wildlife in Vietnam, where smugglers planned to send the shipment on to China. The inspectors used a special reading device to detect the microchip, and quickly learned that the turtle came from Cambodia, where it was released two years ago in the Sre Ambel River ago by Cambodias Fisheries Department. Authorities also called in the Vietnam-based conservation group Wildlife at Risk who confirmed field identification of the turtle.
Following a routine health screening and examination, the turtle was then transported from Vietnam to Cambodia, where it will be soon be released into familiar waters of the Sre Ambel River. WCS works with the National Fisheries Department of Cambodia to protect turtle nesting beaches and reduce local hunting and egg collection to ensure that this small population, with only a handful of nesting females recorded each year, does not become extinct in Cambodia.
Stephen Sautner | EurekAlert!
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