Cambodia to set up protected areas along the Mekong to save rare dolphin
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen announced the decision today following the death of three Irrawaddy dolphins last week caused by fishing nets. Their number has dropped from 200 to 90 in 25 years. For the prime minister, the dolphins are a major tourist attraction.
Phnom Penh (AsiaNews/Agency) – Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen today ordered the creation of conservation areas to protect Irrawaddy dolphins, an endangered species.
Known for their short beak, they swam through much of the Mekong River, the most important waterway in Indochina, which runs through Cambodia, but also China, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand.
For the past few decades, Irrawaddy dolphins have only been found in a stretch of about 190 km in the north-eastern Cambodian province of Kratie, on the border with Laos.
Due to habitat loss and intensive fishing, their numbers have dropped from 200 in 1997 to 90 today.
Prime Minister Hun Sen said that floating markers will be placed around the protected areas where a total ban will be imposed on fishing.
“The Mekong River, which is home to near-extinct dolphins and fish species, must be well managed so that dolphins will not die from entanglement in gill nets,” the prime minister said, adding that the animals’ presence contributes to local tourism.
Last month, three healthy breeding-age dolphins died caught in fishing nets, alarming conservationists, who called for both day and night patrols to protect the remaining dolphins from being killed by illegal fishing.
According to the World Wide Fund (WWF), 11 dolphins died in 2022, for a total of 29 in the past three years.