2005: A male Batagur baska confiscated in Tay
Ninh Province of Vietnam in May was returned and released on the
Sre Ambel river after an AVID tag positively identified the turtle
as one that had been tagged and released in March of 2003.
19, 2005: An adult male was turned in by fishermen to the
3, 2005: A microchipped two-year-old was turned in by local
fishermen to the project.
2005: During the first week of February, fisherman caught
and turned over a 15kg adult male Batagur baska to the
river patrol team. A yearling was also recently caught.
An adult male was turned in by local fishermen to the project. Specific
date not determined.
2005: Two clutches totaling 45 eggs have been deposited
on Kaong River beaches so far this year. One of the 2005 nestings
involving a previously unrecorded female nesting on a beach that
has not been used over the past few years
(Source: Heng Sovannara, Department of Fisheries
and WCS Batagur baska Project Coordinator)
2004: The Batagur conservation team produced and
distributed a t-shirt in villages along the Kaong River with a picture
of a large female Batagur and the words: “Please Help Us Save
the Royal Turtle” in Khmer and English.
Chhun Sopheak and Seng Sophon of Chamkar Dong University, also recently
completed field research projects involving Batagur baska.
Mr. Sopheak examined movement patterns of Batagur baska
on the Sre Ambel River, while Mr. Sophon studied variation in nesting
beaches within Batagur habitat on the Kaong River.
Sre Ambel urging people to protect Batagur baska.
Department of Fisheries
Wildlife Conservation Society
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
to the information contained within this profile:
Heng, of the National Fisheries Department and coordinator
of the WCS Batagur baska Conservation Project
Holloway, PhD candidate from the University of Canberra
Hendrie, Asia Turtle Coordinator for WCS and the Cleveland
Ambel Major Activities
on nesting ecology and home range
2. Community education and awareness activities
3. River patrols and protection of nesting beaches and eggs
4. Community stakeholder development
Efforts undertaken to learn more about Batagur baska on the Sre
Ambel and Kaong Rivers have been led by Rohan Holloway, a PhD student
from University of Canberra, Australia. Rohan is looking at the home range
and nesting ecology of Batagur baska in Cambodia. Some trapping
has been carried out with little success. Tracking of turtles was also
unsuccessful due to difficulties radio-tracking when the turtles moved
to saline water.
Interviews with members
of local communities have been utilized to learn more about the ecology
and behavior of local Batagur populations, identify key threats,
and determine attitudes that will help the conservation team design project
activities that are responsive to community interests and attitudes.
The research program
also involves looking at nesting ecology. Batagur baska nest
on sandbanks from December through February in Cambodia. The range in
incubation has thus far been 118-123 days and there are 7 known nesting
beaches, the furthest located 56 km upriver.
Community-based awareness activities have included development
and placement of five billboards urging people to protect Batagur
baska in the Sre Ambel market, along the road approach to Sre Ambel,
at the Kaong and Sre Ambel River intersection, and at a major river crossing
Activities have also
been carried out in some local schools to increase awareness at the local
village level and help encourage local participation in protecting the
species. A school exercise book featuring the turtle was produced and
distributed in 2001. A poster was also distributed encouraging people
to “Please Help Protect the Royal Turtle."
In July 2003, the
project has also produced a 30 minute documentary that has aired on national
TV raising awareness about efforts to protect the species.
Activities on the River
River patrols by Fisheries Department staff working for the project are
carried out on the Kaong and Sre Ambel River using the Batagur baska
patrol boat owned by WCS. Three people are assigned to each river, led
by team leader from the Sre Ambel Fisheries Department office.
Patrol teams converse
with local fishermen along both rivers and collect information about sightings.
In at least one case, authorities confiscated a juvenile Batagur baska
from a fisherman on the Stung Prot River 20 km west of the mouth of the
Sre Ambel River.
of Nesting Areas and Eggs:
During nesting season, females are permitted to nest without disturbance
on beaches located on the Kaong and Sre Ambel Rivers. The field team then
follows the tracks in the sand to locate nests. Nests are left in-situ
and protected by bamboo fencing to keep predators out. Sometimes nests
are relocated if located too close to the water or if laid on beaches
that can not be readily protected. Members of the local community are
hired to guard the nesting beaches until May when the hatchlings begin
The hatchling turtles
are measured and weighed before being released. Each juvenile is implanted
with a microchip to allow for identification should the individual be
caught again later. Their time in captivity after hatching does not exceed
30 days. Releases are often used to help raise awareness with local people,
school children, government officials, and monks participating in the
Threats to Batagur baska
- Local harvesting
of eggs from nesting areas: Traditionally, eggs are harvested
annually by local people and consumed. This practice has stopped on
main nesting beaches following the start of the project, though some
unknown nests may continue to be exploited without the knowledge of
the conservation team.
harvest of adults (not documented): Batagur baska
may be consumed locally in the past. A single shell from an animal that
was eaten locally was recovered in 2002 from a village on the Kaong
River. Turtles are hunted using nets, harpoons, and hooks strung across
and trade: Local villagers report traders inquiring about buying
Batagur baska in local villages suggesting that trade remains
drowning in fishing nets: Use of gill nets that are set strung
across or along the sides of rivers may result in the accidental drowning
of Batagur baska if the nets are not supervised.
- Ghost fishing:
Filament nets that have been discarded and lie at the river bottom or
tangled in vegetation may result in accidental drowning of turtles.
- Loss of
mangrove habitat: Clearing of riparian vegetation including
mangrove. Cutting of mangrove for charcoal production (Holloway, PC
Use of chemicals and pesticides in agricultural areas bordering the
river may impact water quality and harm turtles. Fish kills have been
observed on the Kaong and Sre Ambel Rivers.
and watering of livestock: Buffalo utilize sand banks during
nesting season increasing the potential for damaging nests or frightening
females from nesting grounds.
Predators: Monitor lizards (Varanus salvatore) and long-tailed
macaques have been known to predate nests. A fishing cat reportedly
destroyed a nest on the Sre Ambel River in 2003.
and sedimentation: Logging and agricultural practices within
the watershed may alter river habitat by changing water flow regimes,
silting or washing away nesting beaches, and reducing water quality.
Focus: Conservation of Batagur baska
Sre Ambel River system, Sre Ambel and Kompong Seila
Districts, Koh Kong Province, Cambodia.
by: The Department of Fisheries and the Wildlife
Conservation Society (WCS)
Conservation of Batagur baska within the Sre Ambel River
system and other river systems where wild populations may still
Wildlife Conservation Society
is released into the the Kaong River by a local fisherman.
Monitor lizards and macaques have been known to predate Batagur
nests. Monitor lizards will search out and dig up nests if located.
Their tracks are often observed on nesting beaches during the nesting
season. The conservation team builds bamboo cages around the nests
to protect them against monitors and other would-be predators.
on Kaong River beach.
Size: There are about six females in the Sre Ambel
population based upon nesting statistics. However, the conservation
team does not yet know if females are returning each year to nest.
In any case, the populations is believed to be very small.
have all the turtles gone? Villagers have reported
in interviews that during the late 1990s, more than 60 adult female
mangrove terrapins were slaughtered during a single night on nesting
beaches of the Kaong River. In 2004, local people report that traders
have visited their village inquiring about buying mangrove terrapins
suggesting that pressure remains intense upon the small surviving
Fishermen Turn Over Turtles: Evidence suggests that
awareness efforts are paying off at least with some of the fishermen
on the Sre Ambel and Kaong Rivers. By 2005, seven Batagur baska
were turned over to the Conservation Team voluntarily by fishermen.
Non-monetary rewards such as rice or tea are given to fishermen
that turn in turtles. In most cases, after the turtle is measured,
weighed, and marked, the fisherman participates in the return of
the animal where it was captured.
Turtle Goes Home: A male Batagur baska that
was confiscated by police from wildlife traders in the southern
province of Tay Ninh, Vietnam was identified as having originated
in the Sre Ambel population thanks to an electronic chip inserted
in the turtle in March 2003. Luckier than most turtles, this particular
turtle was ceremoniously flown home and released back into the river.
This was the first time that Batagur baska had been observed
in the illegal trade in Vietnam, and the first time that an electronic
chip had been used to identify the origin of an animal that ended
up in the trade.
release Batagur baska hatchlings from protected nesting
beaches on the Kaong River.