The Wildlife Conservation Society Cambodia Programme (WCS) has said it safely released 35 Cantor's giant softshell turtle hatchlings into the wild along the Mekong River on February 17, in Kratie province’s northernmost district of Sambor.
This comes as a result of collaboration with the Fisheries Administration (FiA) and the Kratie provincial FiA cantonment, the NGO said in a statement on February 18.
The ceremony for the release of the turtles was held in Kampong Cham commune of southwestern Sambor, in the presence of WCS country director Ken Serey Rotha, it said.
Also in attendance were Fisheries Conservation Department deputy director In Hul, provincial FiA director Mok Ponlok, the community nest protection team and other WCS staff, it added.
“All the hatchlings were collected by the community nest protection team on the beach along the Mekong immediately after they hatched. They were then transferred to be raised in a safe place for a few weeks, before their release into the wild.
“The Cantor’s nesting season starts in November and ends in June. During the current nesting season, as of mid-February 2022, the team found 28 nests with 823 eggs. This represent a 50 per cent increase compared to the same period last year,” WCS said.
Cantor's giant softshell turtle (Pelochelys cantorii) is listed in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species as “Critically Endangered”, meaning that it faces an extremely high risk of extinction.