Fisherman Hands Over a Large Asiatic Soft-shell Turtle for Conservation

Thach Panara, Head of Laboratory, Inland Fisheries Research and Development Institute of Fisheries Administration, presents the Asiatic soft-shell turtle. Photo: Chhut Chheana

KAMPONG CHAM--A large Asiatic soft-shell turtle (Amyda cartilaginea) weighing 33.39 kg, has been handed over by a fisher to the Kampong Cham Fisheries Cantonment.

Ouk Narinn, head of Kampong Cham Fisheries Cantonment, decided to further hand over this turtle to the Inland Fisheries Research and Development Institute of the Fisheries Administration, which is collaborating with Wonders of the Mekong Project for conservation.

The turtle, which measures 40 cm by 68 cm, will be cared for at the Bati fish breeding station in Prey Vang Province until it is deemed healthy enough to release and suitable habitat is found.

During the handover ceremony at Kampong Cham Fisheries Cantonment, Narinn said that the receiving of this Asiatic soft-shell turtle was a result of outreach efforts from the Fisheries Cantonment so far. “In all closed seasons, beside disseminating the notice of closed seasons, I always call on fishermen to protect and conserve fish and other endangered species that are present in the province," he added.

Thach Phanara, Chief of the Laboratory of the Inland Fisheries Research and Development Institute of the Fisheries Administration, expressed his gratitude toward the kindness of Chheng Orn who handed over this huge turtle. “I am very delighted that more and more fishermen engage in protection and conservation work, especially of rare and endangered species such as the giant freshwater stingray, tortoises, turtles and so on. Obviously, today is a clear indication of their full understanding about the importance of this work," he continued.

Ouk Narinn (second from left) and Sreng Chheng Orn (third from left) during the handover of the Asiatic soft-shell turtle to Kampong Cham Fisheries Administration Cantonment. Photo: Chhut Chheana

Sreng Chheng Orn, 37, is an occasional fisherman who encountered the Asiatic soft-shell turtle while converting land near his home. He stated, “When I first saw that turtle, I was both happy and anxious. It was huge and heavy. I was not able to pull it out of the water alone, so I called my nephew to help me to get it out of the water. Later, I realized that it is a rare species, so I decided to hand it over to the Kampong Cham Fisheries Cantonment in response to their call.”

The Asiatic soft-shell turtle (Amyda cartilaginea) inhabits freshwater regions and can be found throughout Asia, especially in Brunei, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. This type of turtle is a nocturnal animal and it prefers to spend most of its time in the water, but it goes on land once in a while. Generally, Asiatic soft-shell turtles can stay still and make no movement in the swamps for hours to wait for their prey. Their main diet includes fish, snails and insects; however, it also feeds on plants. The Asiatic softshell turtle is now listed on the IUCN Red List as "Vulnerable."

The Wonders of the Mekong Project calls for support from fishermen nationwide to participate in the protection and conservation of Cambodia’s rare and endangered freshwater species, which include the giant freshwater stingray, tortoises, and turtles among others.

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