Cambodian Royal Turtle nearly extinct _ less than 10 in wild

Conservationists say Cambodia's Royal Turtle is nearly extinct, with fewer than 10 left in the wild, because increased sand dredging and illegal clearance of flooded forest have lessened its habitat.

The New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society said in a statement Monday that fewer than 10 turtles remain in the Sre Ambel river system where they were successfully protected by a joint project of the government's Fishery Administration and WCS.

The statement says commercial activities along the river in Koh Kong province has resulted in a decline in the nesting of the turtles.

The turtle, also known as the Southern River terrapin, is so named because in historical times only the royal family could consume its eggs. The species was designated as Cambodia's national reptile in 2005.