PHNOM PENH, Dec. 19 (Xinhua) -- Conservationists have found a nest of the globally endangered Asian giant softshell turtle on a sandbar on the Mekong River between Kratie and Stung Treng provinces in northeast Cambodia, a Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) statement said Tuesday.
"This is the only remaining area in the country where these huge turtles still breed," the statement said. "This nest is now being protected by local communities until all eggs are hatched and the hatchlings will be then released into the river."
The Asian giant softshell turtle (Pelochelys cantorii) is listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List as globally endangered. It was thought extinct in the Cambodian portion of the Mekong River until its re-discovery in 2007 in a 48-km stretch of the river in Kratie and Stung Treng provinces.
According to the WCS, since 2007, 378 nests have been protected and 8,528 hatchlings released.
"From now until June is the breeding period of the Asian giant softshell turtle. This is the first nest we have found so far this year," said Som Sitha, WCS's technical advisor to the Turtle Conservation Project.
"We will work hard with the Fisheries Administration and local communities to find more nests along the Mekong River and protect them from egg collection."
He said the Asian giant softshell turtle is a very rare species that will become extinct in the near future if proper action is not taken to conserve them.
"There are not many individuals left. Everyone can help conserve the species by not buying or eating their meat or eggs," he said.