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Critically Endangered Royal Turtles Return to the Wild in Koh Kong Province

Phnom Penh, April 2, 2024 – In a significant step for wildlife conservation, fifteen critically endangered Royal Turtles have been released back into their natural habitat within the Sre Ambel River System in Koh Kong province on March 31. This conservation milestone was achieved through the collaborative efforts of the Fisheries Administration (FiA) under the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), the Koh Kong provincial administration, Mandai Nature, partner organizations, and local authorities.

According to a press release from the FiA, this release included advanced monitoring measures, with eleven of the fifteen turtles equipped with acoustic transmitters and microchips. These devices are intended to track the turtles' movements and survival in the wild, providing valuable data to support ongoing conservation efforts.

The Royal Turtle, also recognized as the Southern River Terrapin, is classified as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List. Believed to have been extinct until 2000, a small population was rediscovered in the Sre Ambel River, shedding new light on the species' chance for recovery.

This recent release underscores over twenty years of dedicated conservation work aimed at protecting and reviving the Royal Turtle population. Efforts have included nest protection, community-based conservation initiatives, and significant financial contributions from various supporters, including the Royal Government of Cambodia, Mandai Nature, Turtle Survival Alliance, the Allan and Patricia Koval Foundation, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the US Forest Service.

To date, a total of 182 Royal Turtles have been released into the wild, marking a hopeful journey towards the species' survival and a testament to the power of collaborative conservation efforts.

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