An adult female dolphin weighing 200 kilogrammes was found dead on Tuesday in Kratie province, downstream from Prek Kampi on the riverbank of the Mekong River.
This is the latest in a series of recent deaths bringing into question the health and safety of Cambodia’s Irrawaddy dolphin population with less than 100 dolphins counted in the official census for decades.
Mok Ponlok, director of Kratie Fisheries Administration said he received information from the river guard team at Kampi Chroy Banteay that the carcass of a 2.3-metre-long dolphin about 27 to 30-years-old was found at Prek Khsor in Chet Borei district.
“After receiving this information, I assigned Tan Someth Bunwath, deputy director of the Fisheries Administration, to cooperate with the WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature-Cambodia) in Kratie province to inspect the [the dolphin],” he said.
“According to the actual situation, this large dolphin died on Tuesday because the carcass was still in good condition,” Ponlok added.
Ponlok confirmed that the dolphin lives in the Kampi Canyon ID-95.
“According to the physical examination, this dolphin is old because its teeth are worn down on both the top and bottom, and there are no bruises or scratches on the dolphin’s body and tail. After examination and measurement, the team decided to perform surgery to keep samples at WWF,” he said.
Last month Srun Limsong, deputy director-general of Cambodia’s Fisheries Administration, said that the major threats facing the Mekong river dolphins include gillnet entanglement, illegal fishing practices such as electrofishing and poisonous bait with chemical substances and overfishing due to human population growth.
WWF told Khmer Times that from January to date, the total of the deaths of dolphins has increased to nine. According to the Fisheries Administration’s last population census in 2017, there were 89 Mekong Irrawaddy dolphins.
The Irrawaddy dolphin has been listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species and protected by Royal Government Sub-Decree No. 123 since 2009.
“Concerted conservation action in recent years has halted the decline in the population, but more effort is urgently required to ensure that the population expands,” said Seng Teak, WWF country director, at a workshop in October.
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