Wildlife experts in Cambodia had discovered a nest of 16 eggs built by the nearly extinct “royal turtle,” in the first such discovery this year, the non-profit Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) said on Feb. 19.
The southern river terrapin, known in Cambodia as the “royal turtle” because its eggs were historically reserved for royalty, is one of the world’s 25 most endangered freshwater turtles, the WCS said.
Over the past two years, just three such nests had been found in Cambodia, it added.
Wildlife rangers in the southwestern province of Koh Kong — where the eggs were discovered along a river by villagers and conservationists — are guarding them until they hatch, the conservation group said in a statement.
Populations of Batagur affinis, as the species is known to zoologists, are “severely depleted,” it added, as it is hunted for its flesh and large eggs, and faced with habitat destruction.
The turtle was believed extinct in Cambodia until 2000, when a small population was rediscovered by conservationists.