Watch: Royal turtles in Cambodia lay first eggs in captivity

Royal turtles have laid five clutches of eggs in a conservation center — the first time ever the species has laid eggs in captivity in Cambodia. Royal turtles (Batagur affinis), also known as southern river terrapins, are listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature due to threats including habitat loss from pollution, development, agriculture and poaching. They are known as royal turtles because their eggs had once been considered a delicacy for Cambodian royalty. But conservationists with the Koh Kong Reptile Conservation Center have been working to breed the animals in captivity to bolster their numbers. In February, five royal turtles laid clutches, totaling 71 eggs, at the conservation center. “It’s the first time that the captive female royal turtles have ever laid eggs since they were head-started at the Center in 2006,” said Som Sitha, WCS Koh Kong and Mekong conservation project manager, in a press release. “The team will make artificial nests for incubation purposes or leave them as they are.”

Read more at the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Header Image: A female royal turtle at a conservation center in Cambodia. Credit: WCS Cambodia