Conservationists said this week that the endangered captive turtle has laid eggs for the first time in captivity in Cambodia. This was reported by the Agence France-Presse.
The animal was among the five royal turtles that were once considered extinct in the country. In general, Cambodia is home to several populations of endangered turtles, whose numbers have declined due to the demand for them in Vietnam and China as delicacies and for use in traditional medicine.
King turtles are on the verge of extinction due to hunting and sand mining, which erodes the shores on which they lay their eggs. The damage was so serious that in 2000 the animal was on the verge of destruction in Cambodia.
This week, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) announced that four captive royal turtles and one that was donated to its conservation center in Cambodia’s southwestern Koh Kong province have successfully laid 71 eggs.
“This is the first time that captive female king turtles have laid eggs since they arrived at the center in 2006,” said Som Sita, WCS Conservation Project Manager.
Given the rarity of this species in the wild, a successful egg-laying is considered a huge win for Cambodia.
“We expect to be able to produce large numbers of royal turtles in captivity soon and release them back into the wild,” said Stephen Platt of WCS.
The Koh Kong Reptile Conservation Center – the kingdom’s only dedicated turtle conservation facility – currently hosts 192 royal turtles and plans to release 50 of them this year.