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Mekong dolphin population remains steady

Sen David / Khmer Times Share:
An Irrawaddy dolphin, also known as the Mekong dolphin, swims in the river at the Kampi village in Kratie province, 230 km (143 miles) northeast of Cambodia, March 25, 2007. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

The Fisheries Administration and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) yesterday announced that an estimated 89 Irrawaddy dolphins live in the rivers of Cambodia, according to an official population survey.

The survey  is from the 2020 report “The population of Mekong Irrawaddy dolphin in 2020 based on the Mark-Resight Models” which was released
at the Fisheries Administration office.

Seng Teak, country director of WWF, said that Mekong river dolphin is considered an important
part of Cambodia’s natural resource heritage and an important source of income for the communities involved in ecotourism.

He said that their research of Irrawaddy dolphins in Southeast Asia is only in Indonesia, Myanmar, Cambodia and some parts of Laos.

“Where the dolphins are present indicates that the ecosystem and health of the river in that area is excellent, rich in all kinds of fish, as well as a good habitat for many other river animals,” Teak said.

Phai Somany, senior officer of the Cambodian Mekong Dolphin Conservation Project explained that the experts estimated that the number of Mekong Irrawaddy dolphins has remained
the same.

He said: “The number is similar if compared to estimates from 2017, which was at between 78 to 102 dolphins. So, the experts estimated the official figure at 89 dolphins present in Cambodia in 2020.”

In 2017, the International Union for Conservation of Nature changed the Irrawaddy dolphin’s status from “vulnerable” to “endangered”, citing human activities as the main reason behind the decline.

Lim Song, deputy director of the Fisheries Administration, said that the results achieved in 2020 are a positive sign for the rehabilitation of Mekong dolphins
as they face many threats.

“Mekong Irrawaddy dolphins still face threats such as fishing nets in protected areas, illegal
use of electric tools for fishing, poisonous bait, overfishing, and upstream dams,” he said.

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