Several hundred Asian giant tortoise babies were released on Monday May 23 in the Mekong in Cambodia to celebrate World Turtle Day.
A victim of poaching and illegal collection of its eggs for food, Cantor’s giant soft-shelled tortoise is on the species list “critically endangeredfrom the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The American NGO Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has coordinated the release of 580 babies who will be able to reach 2 meters in adulthood and weigh more than 100 kilos.
Monks blessed the babies before helping locals and conservationists release them into the muddy waters of the Mekong. Cantor’s giant tortoise spends 95% of its life buried and immobile, leaving only its eyes and the tip of its mouth protruding from the sand. She only surfaces twice a day to breathe. This species has disappeared in a large part of Vietnam and Thailand. In Cambodia, a few individuals reappeared from 2007.
Since “significant progresshave been made in the kingdom to protect this animal even if efforts remain to be made, noted in a press release Ken Sereyrotha, director of the national program of WCS Cambodia. The Cambodian authorities and the WCS have notably set up a community nest protection program which has made it possible to recover more than 2000 eggs this year. “All stakeholders must continue their efforts to conserve endangered species, and those who still trade in them will face legal action“, underlined Ouk Vibol, director of the fisheries department.