On Tuesday the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) announced that four Royal Turtles bred in captivity—and one that was handed to its conservation centre in Cambodia’s southwestern Koh Kong province—successfully laid 71 eggs.

“It’s the first time that the captive female Royal Turtles have ever laid eggs since they were head-started at the centre in 2006,” said Som Sitha, a conservation project manager with the WCS.

“The team will make artificial nests for incubation purposes or leave them as they are.”

Given the rarity of the species in the wild, the successful egg laying is considered a massive win for Cambodia.

“We anticipate soon being able to produce large numbers of Royal Turtles in captivity and releasing them back into the wild,” said the WCS’s Steven Platt.

Since conservation efforts started, scores of Royal Turtles have been released back into the wild.

These come from eggs laid in the wild and taken into captivity, to protect them from the dangers which threaten the species’ numbers.

Koh Kong Reptile Conservation Centre—the kingdom’s only dedicated turtle conservation facility—currently holds 192 Royal Turtles, and plans to release 50 of them this year.

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