|The Batagur, also called giant river turtle or mangrove terrapin (Batagur baska) isa species of riverine turtle. It is one of the most critically-endangered turtle species according to a 2003 assessment by the IUCN. Batagur baska is a rare and endangered Asian river terrapin also called the “Royal Turtle” in Cambodia because its eggs were a royal delicacy.
The Batagur is found only in parts of India such as Bengal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Peninsular Malaysia (Kedah, Perak and Terengganu), Sumatra, Indonesia and Cambodia (Cardamom Mountains), and populations have been sharply declining in recent years.
Many Asian turtles are in danger because of the thriving trade in animals in the region, where a species’ rarity can add to its value on a menu or as a traditional medicine.
The species was thought to have disappeared in Cambodia until it was rediscovered in 2001. Conservationists eventually began tagging the animals with tracking devices and monitoring their nests, and King Norodom Sihamoni personally ordered their protection.
In Malaysia, rivers of Kedah, Perak and Terengganu are major nesting grounds though the population continues to crash despite conservation efforts undertaken by Malaysian Wildlife Department for over 20 years. Pasir Temir and Pasir Lubuk Kawah by the Terengganu River are the largest nesting sites for Batagur baska in the world.