Rare Mekong River Dolphin Found Dead in Cambodia

Photo released on March 22, 2023 shows Irrawaddy dolphins swimming in the Mekong River in Kratie province, northeast Cambodia. Photo: FiA/WWF-Cambodia /Handout via Xinhua

PHNOM PENH -- A rare Mekong Irrawaddy dolphin was found dead after being entangled in a fisherman's illegal gillnet in northeast Cambodia, said a Fisheries Administration's statement on Wednesday.

The 1.04-meter-long, 14-kg weight male dolphin was spotted dead on Feb. 18 in Preaek Prasab district of Kratie province, about 16 km from the Kampi dolphin pool in the Mekong River.

"The Fisheries Administration and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) primarily assessed that the death was caused by the gillnet because there were gillnet marks on its tail base," the statement said.

"The Fisheries Administration will cooperate with relevant authorities to crack down on illegal fishing and the perpetrators will face severe punishment under the Fisheries Law," it added.

According to the statement, the Fisheries Administration called on people to report if they see any fishermen using gillnets or electro-fishing in the dolphin protected area, promising to offer a reward for any information about fisheries' crime.

Meanwhile, the WWF called for strictly prohibiting the use of electro-fishing and other illegal fishing activities that threaten the survival of river dolphins and other mega fish species.

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

It is estimated that there are approximately 90 Irrawaddy dolphins living along a 180-km main channel of the Mekong River.

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