Third Mekong River Dolphin Found Dead in a Week

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This is the 11th dolphin found dead in Cambodia in 2022, bringing the total to 29 in the last three years.

An examination by a research team from the Kratie Fisheries Administration Cantonment and WWF came to the conclusion that the dolphin lost its life after getting entangled with a longline fishing hook.

According to the team, the dolphin was an adult female, measuring 196cm long. It was between 7 and 10 years old and weighed about 93 kg.

Seng Teak, the country director of WWF Cambodia pointed out that the recent increase in illegal fishing activities in the dolphin conservation areas of the river will eventually lead to the extinction of the Irrawaddy dolphin in Cambodia unless stronger action is taken immediately to curb them.

“These tragic and preventable deaths of three healthy breeding aged dolphins in less than 10 days should send a clear message to all responsible levels of authorities, that the time is now to step up the law enforcement presence in all critical dolphin habitats,” he said.

“There are no other options except to immediately implement strict law enforcement to crack down on all types of illegal activities in the areas where dolphins live. To stop these activities, river guards and law enforcement officers need to be active 24/7, conducting both day and night patrols in the dolphin zones,” Teak added.

The Cambodian Ministry of Environment spokesman Neth Pheaktra also expressed his sadness about the incident saying, “I deeply regret receiving the news of the death of this freshwater dolphin. The dolphin is the third healthy dolphin to die in just seven days, prompting an urgent call for stronger law enforcement in the dolphin conservation zone.”

Less than 90 Irrawaddy Dolphins live in the Mekong River between Kratie and Stung Treng provinces at the moment and they are considered part of the living national heritage of Cambodia.

Laos used to be home to Irrawaddy Dolphins as well, in fact spotting them was a popular tourist activity in the southern part of the country. Unfortunately, the last freshwater Irrawaddy dolphin living on a section of the Mekong River bordering northeastern Cambodia and Laos died earlier this year, after getting entangled in a fishing net.