Baby turtles bring new hope to royal species

The Cambodian Royal Turtle is critically endangered and was once believed extinct in Cambodia
royal turtles Ex-shell-ent news! Nine new baby Cambodian Royal Turtles are hatched and healthy. (Wildlife Conservation Society)


The southern river terrapin is one rare turtle. It is listed on the 25 most endangered tortoises and turtles by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). It is only found in three Southeast Asian countries: Malaysia, Indonesia, and Cambodia. And in 2005, Cambodia recognized it as the country's national reptile. In fact, it's other name is the Cambodian Royal Turtle.

Were almost extinct

Sand dredging disturbs the habitat of these rare reptiles. (Getty Embed)

It's hard to be a country's national reptile if you don't live there. But sadly, that's the predicament this reptile is facing. It was even thought to be extinct in Cambodia until 2000, when a small group of them was found in the Sre Ambel river in southern Cambodia. Since then, everyone from villagers and experts have been working together to help save the animal.

But the turtle is still in a delicate situation. Threats to it include overfishing, deforestation, and sand dredging (or mining sand from river beds). That's why the discovery of a new nest is such an exciting event!

Back in February, a nest of 14 Cambodian Royal Turtle eggs were found by a villager. The Royal Turtle Conservation Team and the Wildlife Conservation Society both stepped in to help. They fenced off the nest for three months until the babies hatched. Want to meet these adorable little river critters? Us too!

Fingers crossed

Nine of the eggs hatched successfully. They're living safely at the Koh Kong Reptile Conservation Centre. Workers say that the turtles may take part in a breeding program in the future. This process would help build up the numbers of this threatened turtle. Here's hoping that this reptile can bounce back and stay a part of Cambodia's wildlife.

Good luck, turtles!

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