Conservationists from the USAID Morodok Baitang project discovered a critically endangered elongated tortoise (Indotestudo elongata) within the Siem Pang Wildlife Sanctuary in Stung Treng province. 

Officials and partner organisations are closely involved in the protection and conservation efforts for this species.

According to the US-funded environmental conservation project, the revelation of the elongated tortoise is both surprising and exciting, given its rarity and critical endangered status. The species faces a significant decline across its natural range in Southeast Asia.

“The elongated tortoise faces a critical endangered classification, attributed to a significant decline in population caused by habitat loss, harvesting for traditional medicine, the exotic pet trade and food consumption,” noted the project in a social media post.

The conservation group detailed that elongated tortoises are omnivores, relying on a diet that includes vegetables, edible leaves, meat, snails, eggs and other food types to ensure nutritional balance. 

As reptiles are unable to internally regulate their body temperature, they require environments with access to both sun and shade to maintain a consistent body temperature.

These tortoises exhibit heightened activity at dawn or dusk, with increased movement observed during the rainy season. This behaviour reflects their adaptation to environmental conditions.

“The presence of this critically endangered species never fails to astonish us. 

“So support the preservation of their habitat and put an end to the illegal wildlife trade!” urged the group.

Sreng Chea Heng, director of the Stung Treng provincial Department of the Environment, on November 19 said the species is indigenous to the region, with officials and partner organisations constantly engaged in protection efforts, fearing potential harm from traders.

Heng emphasised the commitment not only to the safeguarding of this species but also to the preservation and protection of all biodiversity within across Cambodia.

“Each day, we take great care to ensure the safeguarding of endangered species. This tortoise, along with others, calls Virachey National Park home. 

“The team is installing security cameras to monitor a variety of species. This approach provides easier protection and conservation,” he said.

The elongated tortoise, also known as the yellow tortoise, faces endangerment and is indigenous to the jungles and grasslands of Southeast Asia. 

The creatures are recognised for their snouts, with colouring ranging from black to light brown, according to Wonders of The Mekong, another US-funded project.

Weighing up to 3.5kg and reaching lengths of 30cm, the species is classified as a medium-sized tortoise. 

In breeding season, male tortoises display a pink hue on their noses to attract females, who have the capacity to lay up to 10 eggs at a time.