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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - River dolphin deaths double this year: govt

River dolphin deaths double this year: govt

THE number of rare Mekong River dolphins found dead between June and August has doubled since the same period last year, according to Touch Seang Tana, chairman of Cambodia's Commission to Conserve Mekong River Dolphins and Develop Eco-Tourism.

"Since June, four dolphins have died," he told the Post on Wednesday.

"During the same period last year, only two dolphins died."

Touch Seang Tana blamed the increase in deaths on higher water levels and the fact the dolphins were escaping a safe-zone that extends nearly 200 kilometres from Kratie provincial town to the Laos border.

He said two dolphins died last year after leaving the safe zone, but he added that 14 dolphins had been born since that time.

The commission's data follows a report in June by the international conservation group WWF that stated that the dolphins were being driven to the brink of extinction by industrial contaminants, inbreeding and disease.

Touch Seang Tana dismissed the report at the time as "all a lie".

The dolphins, which inhabit a 190-kilometre stretch of the Mekong in the northeast of the Kingdom, have been listed as critically endangered by WWF since 2004. The group estimates that between 64 and 76 dolphins remain alive.

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