Exhibition Shares Knowledge About Mekong Dolphins

Photos of the Mekong Irrawaddy Dolphins are on the exhibition at the Institut Français du Cambodge (IFC) for 30 days. Photo: Meng Seavmey

PHNOM PENH – A Mekong river dolphin photo exhibition is being held for 30 days to raise awareness, share knowledge, and call on the public to participate in protecting the animals. 

The exhibition aims to promote the value of the existing dolphins, also known as Irrawaddy dolphins, spread awareness of challenges they face, and show the efforts put into sustaining the dolphins within the country. 

The event is co-organized by the World Wild Fund for Nature (WWF) and the Institut Français du Cambodge, with support from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Tourism, and Fisheries Administration.

WWF country director Seng Teak said at the launch event on Oct. 18 that about 89 photos of the dolphins were being displayed at the Institut Français du Cambodge, showing the beauty, the challenges, and the deaths of the dolphins. 

Teak hopes that the exhibition, at Keo Chea (Street 184), will be visited by 50,000 people. 

"This is the hope for everyone. The photo exhibition today is open to the public for 30 days, which represents the efforts we have put into protecting and conserving the dolphins," he said.

Birthrate increased while deaths declined 

In the last four years, 28 Mekong Irrawaddy dolphins have been born: nine in 2020, six in 2021, six in 2022, and seven in 2023. 

However, 33 were found dead from 2020 to 2023. Last year, 11 were found dead, which was the most deaths in the last four years. 

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries has instituted restrictions to protect dolphins by banning all types of fishery equipment, especially nets, installed in the protected area.

As a result, the number fell down to only 4 deaths in 2023--two found dead within the conserving area while the other 2 died after they had mobilized outside the area. 

Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Dith Tina said, “the government has put patrols and will do everything possible to ensure the dolphin survival.”

The minister urged people to participate in researching and reporting all fishing crimes to the Fisheries Administration or the Ministry of Agriculture to take actions in accordance with the law.  

“Those who commit fishing crimes will not get away with it. If we find evidence [for the crimes], then the law will be enforced strictly,” he added.

The WWF’s country director thanked the government and all relevant stakeholders for the close cooperation to protect and conserve the dolphins, as well as for promoting and spreading the awareness of the dolphins among the public, especially the fishermen. 

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