Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A chance of survival

Critically endangered turtles are now welcoming visitors. Since June this year, the Mekong Turtle Conservation Center has been open to guests, for a small fee ($3 for foreign adults), where you can see one of the world's rarest and largest freshwater turtles, the Cantor's softshell. Hatchlings are given the opportunity to grow into juveniles before being released back into their natural habitat, after spending ten months in indoor tanks, whilst a large outdoor pond assists with a turtle breeding program. The center gives sanctuary to four types of turtles until they are ready to be released back into the Mekong River. Local fishermen and communities have been educated not to eat or steal the turtle eggs and in fact to report the nests they find in exchange for small rewards. All entry fees and donations will go straight back into the project and the local villagers near the center, which is housed in the grounds of the Wat Sarsar Mouy Rouy pagoda, better known as the 100 pillar pagoda, about 40kms north of Kratie town. Conservation International and the monks at the pagoda are behind the center, which is open from 8am until 5pm, with a break for lunch. So for wildlife enthusiasts , that's rare turtles and rare dolphins on the Mekong River itinerary.

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