Conservation of the Threatened River Terrapins
WRS and Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) have joined efforts towards conservation of endangered turtles in Southeast Asia. The first initiative of the project works with critically endangered Southern River Terrapin Batagur affinis in Cambodia. Fewer than 10 nesting females are estimated to remain in the wild, while a captive population of approximately 130 individuals exists in Cambodia under WCS care. This makes the Southern River Terrapin one of the most endangered turtles on earth! To retain genetic diversity and minimize the risk of catastrophic loss of the Cambodian colony, scientists recommend establishing an assurance colony, WRS and WCS staff, including world turtle expert Dr Brian D Horne, travelled to Cambodia to take tissue samples of the captive terrapins for genetic analyses.
A founder group of unrelated individuals was identified and used to form the assurance colony established Cambodia with the help of WRS. In the future, this colony may provide offspring for reintroductions into the wild. WCS works closely with the Cambodian Fisheries Administration on the project; in-situ conservation efforts include protecting turtle nest sites, reducing incidental catches by fishermen, and reducing targeted hunting.
Top: Field team with various ages of captive Southern River Terrapin in the WCS Sre Ambel Hatchling Centre, Cambodia.
Centre: Adult Batagur affinis . [©Brian Horne]
Bottom: Field team taking tissue samples from an adult Southern River Terrapin