Many Cambodians believe that this reptile is the sole property of their king. Thus, captured turtles are often adorned with flowers and coloured powder while monks preside over peace and prosperity prayers. The Royal turtle is then released.
This critically-endangered turtle, known as 'Andoeurk Sarsai' or 'Andoeurk Lung' by the Khmer is found only in small parts of Malaysia, Indonesia and Cambodia. Just ten of these turtles were believed to be living in the wild in Cambodia in late 2011. Only 200 exist elsewhere in the wild.
However, with a captive breeding program proving successful with 100 juvenile turtles hatched in the small town of Sre Ambel, in Koh Kong province, and another hatching facility being built in Siem Reap, the long-term future of the Royal turtle is thought to be bright.
A satellite tracking program was launched a year ago with the progress of a female adult being tracked in the Sre Ambel river. (See Video below)