Three endangered freshwater dolphins died within 10 days of each other. It caused conservationists in Cambodia to become concerned.
“The death of a third healthy dolphin in such a short period indicates an increasingly alarming situation. There is an urgent need for intensive law enforcement in dolphin habitats,” according to an announcement made Monday by the World Wildlife Fund.
According to the statement, the latest Irrawaddy dolphin death highlights the need for law enforcement to help save the species. The death is thought to have resulted from entanglement in an illegal fishing line. These species are also known as the Mekong River dolphin.
The body of a healthy female dolphin estimated to be between 7 and 10 years old was discovered floating in the river Saturday in the eastern province of Kratie. The dolphin was 196 centimetres (6 1/2 feet) long and 93 kilogrammes (205 pounds). It had been hooked and wrapped in a tangle of fishing line, according to an examination of its carcass.
Seng Teak, WWF Cambodia director, stated in the statement that if no immediate action is taken. He said “the recent increase in illegal fishing activities in dolphin conservation areas” will destroy Cambodia’s Mekong River dolphin population.
The statement called for increased day and night patrols to protect the remaining dolphins in protected areas.
In 1997, the first census of Irrawaddy dolphins in Cambodia estimated their total population to be around 200. The population is expected to fall to 89 by 2020.
According to the WWF, 11 dolphins died in 2022. This brought the total number of deaths in the last three years to 29.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists the Irrawaddy dolphin as an endangered species. Other groups of these dolphins can be found in two other freshwater rivers on the island of Borneo. The groups are Myanmar’s Irrawaddy and Indonesia’s Mahakam.
Cambodian wildlife officials announced the death of the last known Irrawaddy dolphin in a population on a stretch of the Mekong River further upstream in February. The death appeared to be the result of entanglement in a fishing net.