Cambodia reports 2nd rare Mekong River dolphin death this year

An Irrawaddy dolphin calf has been found dead after being entangled in illegal gillnets in Cambodia, marking the second death of the critically endangered species.

Phnom Penh: An Irrawaddy dolphin calf has been found dead after being entangled in illegal gillnets in Cambodia, marking the second death of the critically endangered species this year, the Fisheries Administration said in a statement on Thursday.

The 87-cm-long male calf, which weighed 10 kg, was about four days old, the statement said, adding that it was spotted on Wednesday in the Mekong River in Kratie province, reports Xinhua news agency.

“The joint research team of Fisheries Administration and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) assessed that the cause of the death was gillnets since there were tears on its skin, tail and both pelvic fins,” the statement said.

On March 19, a 2.38-meter-long male dolphin, weighing 160 kg and about 20 years old, was found dead in the Mekong River in Stung Treng province.

WWF-Cambodia country director Seng Teak said the illegal fishing activities and the use of illegal fishing gear in dolphin conservation areas remain a challenge although law enforcement has been remarkably stepped up in the last few months.

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“A complete ban on all illegal fishing activities including gill-nets, long-line hooks and electrofishing in the dolphin areas would help safeguard this critically endangered species from extinction,” he told Xinhua.

The Irrawaddy dolphins have been listed as critically endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species since 2004.

The Fisheries Administration said there are about 90 Irrawaddy dolphins in the Cambodian portion of the Mekong River in Kratie and Stung Treng provinces.

The government in February issued a sub-decree on the creation of the dolphin conservation and protection zones covering a 120-km-long stretch of the Mekong River in the two provinces.

 
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