Third Dolphin Calf Spotted in a Month

PHNOM  PENH – Another Irrawaddy dolphin calf has been spotted in Kratie province, making it the third recorded in a month while another calf was found dead.

The new calf was seen on Feb. 23 in Sombok village of Chetr Borei district, near the Mekong Dolphin Pleasance of Kampi village in Kratie province, according to the Ministry of Agriculture. The calf was among a group of six adult dolphins 

The first and the second calves were recorded on Feb. 11 and Feb. 15 in Kratie province. Another was found dead on Feb. 18 after being entangled in a fisherman's illegal gillnet. 

According to a population census published in 2020, 89 dolphins were living in Cambodia’s section of the Mekong River that year, compared to 92 in 2017. They live in nine underwater canyons. Four are in Stung Treng and five in Kratie.

In 2023, eight new dolphins were recorded while five were found dead. In 2022, only six new dolphins were spotted, and 11 were found dead. 

Over the past two years, the trend has been to witness more births than deaths, which is a positive sign for the future of the species in Cambodia, WWF-Cambodia said.

New population estimates will be published soon, after a census in October 2023. The survey team is finalizing results and addressing potential technical errors.

Over 70 percent of the Mekong dolphin population is over 20 years old, making them incapable of breeding. Irrawaddy dolphins have a life expectancy of 27 to 30 years.

The species is classified as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species.

The Ministry of Agriculture and WWF-Cambodia continue to protect the creatures while calling the public and fishermen to join hands in the effort and stop illegal fishing in dolphin habitats. 

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