Irrawaddy Dolphin May be Making a Comeback

irrawaddy dolphin in Laos
Irrawaddy dolphin in Laos

The population of Irrawaddy dolphins in the Mekong River has increased for the first time in twenty years, according to a recent WWF report.

The Irrawaddy dolphin, found only in Southeast Asia, is considered critically endangered. They are found in the Mekong River, the Irrawaddy River in Myanmar, and the Mahakham River of Borneo Island.

The number of Irrawaddy dolphins in the Mekong River has now increased to 90 animals, however, a 15 percent increase over an estimate of 80 made in 2015.

The survey area stretched from Kratie in Cambodia to the Khone Phapheng Falls in Champasack Province, Laos.

One report in 2016 suggested that the dolphin was functionally extinct in Laos.

The WWF has stated that while the increased numbers are good news, the dolphins remain threatened by illegal fishing methods, increased boat traffic and dam projects.

However, efforts by the WWF, the governments of the countries involved, and local tourism has made a difference.

Dolphin watching and ecotourism are important businesses for communities on the river, and the WWF hopes that this can help bring the animal back from the brink of extinction.

Source: WWF
Photo: WWF