Elongated Tortoise Breeding Project Is Under Way

AKP Phnom Penh, April 06, 2019 —

“The breeding project of Elongated Tortoise, one of the most endangered tortoise species in Cambodia is under way,” Mr. Michael Meyerhoff, Country Director of Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity (ACCB) told AKP.

“The breeding project started in 2013. Currently, there are almost 500 individuals of nine native species of turtles and tortoises in ACCB and we have bred 73 baby elongated tortoises in 2018 and hope to breed more this year,” pointed out Mr. Meyerhoff.

According to World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Elongated tortoises (Indotestudo elongata) are highly distinctive with their elongated shells and inhabit forests in South and Southeast Asia. In Cambodia, they have been recorded in the eastern and southwestern Mekong Plains as well as in the Cardamom Mountains. These terrestrial reptiles are under intense pressure due to over-harvest for food and the pet trade.

Typically, Elongated tortoises are around 30 centimetres long and 3.5 kilogrammes as an adult. Females tend to be wider than males and more rounded. Males also have a tail that is much larger than that of the female. The males have a concave plastron while the plastron of a female is flat. Additionally, the female’s posterior claws are markedly longer and more curved than those of the male. It is believed that this is to facilitate nest building.

Cambodia’s wetlands are home to other threatened turtle species as well, such as the endangered yellow-headed temple turtle (Heosemys annandalii) that has been encountered on a WWF-led survey of the Mekong mainstream north of Kratie, as well as the Royal Turtle known as the Southern River Terrapin (Batagur affinis). This national reptile of Cambodia was originally thought extinct in the country until a population was rediscovered in Koh Kong province in 2000. A protection and captive hatching programme is now underway to save this tiny remnant population.

ACCB has been working closely with related government ministries and institutions as well as some organisations to protect wildlife from illegal trade. Founded in 2003, ACCB is located on an area of 14 hectares at the historical site of Kbal Spean, about 40 kilometre north of Siem Reap provincial city. The centre houses more than 630 animals of over 40 species and around 90 percent of them are threatened, endangered and critically endangered.

(Photo: Phen Rattanak)

By Thach Phanarong