Thursday, May 17, 2007

Cantor's Turtle Nesting Ground Discovery

Various news agencies are carrying articles about the Cantor's giant softshelled turtle (Pelochelys cantorii) whose Cambodian nesting ground was recently discovered by conservationists. The Cantor's turtle is one of the world's largest and least studied turtles. Instead of an exterior shell, the Cantor’s turtle has a rubbery skin with ribs fused together to form a protective layer over the internal organs. It spends 95 percent of its life hidden in sand or mud and can extend its neck with lightning speed, more rapid than a cobra strike according to the press release. It bites with jaws powerful enough to crush bone. Not a turtle you want to stumble over at the beach!

For the future protection of the species, Conservation International, World Wildlife Fund, and the Cambodian Turtle Conservation Team plan to employ local community members to protect nesting beaches for the turtles and to conduct patrols during the dry season to prevent illegal fishing of the species prized as an expensive delicacy in neighboring Vietnam. The organizations will also provide the communities with financial incentives to offset the potential loss of revenue from illegal trade in the turtles.

Here's Conservation International's May 16 press release with more details and some good pictures.

© 2007, Linda Mason Hood
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