About 565 endangered Asian giant softshell turtle hatchlings have been released into the natural habitat along the Mekong River in northeast Cambodia’s Kratie province, a conservationist group said in a statement on Thursday.
The hatchlings are part of a community protection project designed to increase the wild population of the species, and had been collected from nests that were guarded by local communities, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) said in the statement.
The Asian giant softshell turtle (Pelochelys cantorii) is listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List as globally endangered.
It was thought to be extinct in the Cambodian portion of the Mekong River until it was re-discovered in 2007 in a 48-kilometer stretch of the river between Kratie and Stung Treng provinces.
“This release aims at increasing the wild population of the Asian Giant Softshell Turtles,” said Ngourn Chanti, WCS’s Asian Giant Softshell Turtle Conservation Project coordinator.
“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,” he said.