PHNOM PENH, July 18 (Xinhua) -- A conservationist group on Tuesday supported a Cambodia's decision to stop all types of sand dredging activities in Sre Ambel River in southwestern Koh Kong province and ban all sand exports.
The Southeast Asian country banned the exports of sand for construction and sand mud from Koh Kong province on July 10 in response to environmental concerns.
"This decision reflects strong commitment and efforts from the Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME) in avoiding the negative impacts from sand dredging activities on the environment, fisheries, local communities as well as the protection of biodiversity, including Royal Turtles," the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) said in a statement.
Sre Ambel River is an important conservation site. It is the only place in Cambodia where Royal Turtles, the Cambodia's national reptile, can be found.
WCS Cambodia Country Director Ross Sinclair said WCS expressed its strong support for the MME's recent decision to stop all types of sand dredging activities along the Sre Ambel River where WCS and Cambodia's Fisheries Administration have been working together to conserve the critically endangered Royal Turtle and Siamese Crocodile.
"This decision is welcome news for natural resource conservation in Koh Kong province because sand dredging can destroy natural habitat, deplete fish stocks for local communities, and damage ecosystem," he said.
The Royal Turtle was believed extinct in Cambodia until 2000 when a small population was re-discovered by Fisheries Administration and WCS in the Sre Ambel River. Recently, the conservation group also found a nest of critically endangered Siamese Crocodile in this river.