Cambodian Turtle conservation project: extending chelonian research, education and conservation in Cambodia

Sitha Som

This project proposes to build on the research results from our first year project and go to these next steps: 1) focused monitoring of the Endangered species we have found; 2) surveys to look for Endangered turtles outside of protected areas in South West Cambodia; 3) education of local communities and rangers and local police in important areas for turtles and tortoise conservation; 4) work with national and international NGOs to support protected area management with survey results; 5) help set up a National Working Group to be sure that turtle researchers in Cambodia talk and communicate more and share information. Our aims are to do further research and to conserve the important tortoise and freshwater turtle species in southwest Cambodia. We will help the NGOs that work in South West Cambodia by doing surveys inside and outside of other protected areas and to identify the priority areas so they can be put into long-term monitoring conservation. Results from the first year showed that the area in and near the Cardamom Mountains is a high priority area for turtle and tortoise conservation; therefore activities in the second and third year will further focus to study about the most threatened rare species, in particular we will focus outside the protected areas for tortoises and turtles. The project has three components. These are (i) education of local students from RUPP about turtle research and local communities about turtle conservation, (ii) research on important Endangered species especially those not in protected areas and those which have no protection, (iii) setting up a National Working Group and having quarterly meetings and activities where we all learn and communicate and help to form a good communication between turtle and tortoise researchers in Cambodia. The data collected from this project will combine into a database and contribute to help NGOs like Conservation International, Wild Aid and FFI who are working in South West Cambodia in conservation planning and management in protected areas as well as helping protecting Endangered turtles in places outside of protected areas by finding out where they are and looking at the threats. Our results can also help with community natural resource management plans and regional conservation planning.

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