An extremely rare adult female Royal Turtle – one of 10 breeding females believed left in the wild – was found dead in Koh Kong’s Sre Ambel River last week, likely killed by illegal fishing methods, the World Conservation Society (WCS) said yesterday.
A press release put out by the group said the 11-year-old female turtle was found with wounds consistent with electro-fishing.
The Royal Turtle “is one of the world’s most endangered turtles and faces numerous threats to its survival”, the release states, listing sand dredging and illegal fishing as primary threats.
“The Royal Turtle was believed extinct in Cambodia until 2000 when a small population was rediscovered . . . in the Sre Ambel River,” it continues, claiming this area is the only place in Cambodia where the species still exists.
Eng Mengey, a representative from WCS, said yesterday that the turtle was discovered on February 10.“There are fewer than 10 breeding females left in the wild,” Mengey said.
Mengey said the Fisheries Administration is developing a conservation zone in the area with support from WCS. The new initiative will include night patrols of the area in an attempt to curb illegal fishing.
Uk Vibol, director of the department of conservation with the Fisheries Administration, said killing a Royal Turtle can carry a jail sentence of three to five years, though if the death was unintentional, the penalty is a fine between “three and four times the market price”.