The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) yesterday released 150 endangered Asian giant softshell turtles into the wild as part of a "community protection programme", the organisation announced. Gathered from nests guarded by local communities, including former egg harvesters, the hatchlings were released into their natural habitat along the Mekong River between Kratie and Stung Treng provinces.
"As the project pays local people as guardians and rangers, the release will also increase local incomes and encourage the support and involvement of local communities in conserving the species," WCS Project Coordinator Sun Yoeung was quoted as saying.
By addressing the main threats to the species, namely the collection of adult turtles and their eggs as well as habitat loss, the programme "significantly contributed" to its preservation, WCS Communications Officer Eng Mengey wrote in an email yesterday. Since the project began in 2007, 8,528 hatchlings from 378 protected nests have been released.