Cambodia: Alarm death of 3 endangered dolphins

NOM PEN, Cambodia (HPD) — Three endangered freshwater dolphins have died within 10 days of each other, a development that has caused alarm among conservationists in Cambodia.

The death of a third healthy dolphin in such a short period indicates “an increasingly alarming situation and the urgent need for intensive enforcement of dolphin habitats,” said the Global Fund for Nature in a statement on Monday.

The latest death of an Irrawaddy dolphin, believed to have become entangled in an illegal fishing line, underscored the need for authorities to help save the species, also known as the Mekong river dolphin, according to the release.

WWF said the carcass of a healthy dolphin estimated to be between seven and 10 years old was found floating in the river on Saturday in the eastern province of Kratie. He added that an examination of her remains suggested that the dolphin, 196 centimeters (6.5 feet) long and 93 kilograms (205 pounds), had been hooked and wrapped in a tangle of fishing line.

Seng Teak, director of WWF Cambodia, said in the statement that without immediate action, “the recent increase in illegal fishing activities in dolphin conservation areas” will wipe out Cambodia’s Mekong river dolphin population.

The statement calls for intensifying day and night patrol tasks in order to protect the remaining dolphins in conservation areas.

The first census of Cambodian Irrawaddy dolphins in 1997 estimated their total population to be about 200. By 2020, the population was estimated to have dropped to 89.

WWF claimed that 11 dolphins have died in 2022, bringing the total number of deaths to 29 in the past three years.

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