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Training Wildlife Protection Officers
On Monday 17th October 2005, the Cambodia Turtle Conservation Team held a training course in Phnom Penh aimed at increasing awareness about the need to protect Cambodia's tortoises and freshwater turtles, and building identification skills amongst wildlife protection authorities from the Forestry and Fisheries Departments. Thirty-five participants joined in the day-long course including representatives from major conservation organizations working in Cambodia.
The course consisted of four main topics: The ecology of turtles, the Asian turtle crisis, turtle identification, and handling and releasing of turtles. The turtle team also tested the knowledge of participants to measure how the course contributed to their skills in identifying Cambodia's 11 confirmed and two introduced turtle species. The results showed that 90% of the participants could identify all 11 native species following the training.
Like other countries in the region, authorities in Cambodia routinely confiscate turtle from wildlife traders. However lack of knowledge about the turtles and the inability of many frontline wildlife protection officers to identify specific species, impacts the effectiveness of enforcement and often results in turtles being released at sites that may not be appropriate for the species.
The workshop was the first enforcement training workshop carried out by the Cambodia turtle team since attending the Asian Turtle Program's training of trainers workshop in Vietnam that took place in May 2005. During the May training, representatives from Cambodia and Myanmar developed specific local language training programs for each of their countries based upon a enforcement training package that has been used in Vietnam.