Steve, a one-year-old Southern river terrapin, was the only egg among 71 eggs that hatched at the Koh Kong Reptile Conservation Centre (KKRCC) back in 2021, according to the Wonder of the Mekong.
Steve was named after Dr. Steven G. Platt, an American herpetologist, in honour of Platt’s research work. Dr. Platt was the first to record the Cambodian Royal Turtle, the Southern river terrapin, in the Sre Ambel stream system in Sre Ambel district, Koh Kong province in 1999.
Mr. Som Sitha, Project Manager of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), stated that “Steve was considered to be the lucky one out of seventy-one Royal Turtle eggs. The eggs were the first ever laid in captivity at the Koh Kong Reptile Conservation Centre.”
Mr. Som Sitha explained that the poor hatching result was potentially caused by the age of the female turtle (barely mature) or lack of nutrition. He confirmed that high levels of protein and calcium are necessary to produce healthy eggs and proper embryo development.
Hatching turtle eggs is a somewhat new experience for the Koh Kong Reptile Conservation Centre. However, Mr. Som Sitha said that since Steve hatched, there has been quite a bit of promise for more hatchlings. So far this year, the centre has received nine new nests that hold a total of 80 eggs.
“We have noticed that the eggs have good hard shells and up to 50 percent of them show signs of embryo development. The centre hopes that the turtle eggs will successfully hatch soon,” he added.
The Koh Kong Reptile Conservation Centre was established in 2016 by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in collaboration with the Fisheries Administration, the Mandai Nature of Singapore, and funds received from various institutions including the European Union under the Anti-wildlife trafficking Partnership Project, the US Forest Service, the Rainforest Trust, the Turtle Survival Alliance, and other private donors.
Currently, there are a total of 154 Royal Turtles in the Reptile Conservation Centre.
Designated as Cambodia’s National Reptile, the Royal Turtle, known as Southern River Terrapin (Batagur affinis), is one of the world’s 25 most threatened freshwater turtles and tortoises, listed on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List as Critically Endangered.
Source: Agency Kampuchea Press