A male dolphin calf in the Anlong Kampi Irrawaddy dolphin conservation area died on Tuesday, and authorities are conducting a post-mortem to ascertain its cause of death.
Kratie Fisheries Administration head Sien Kin told The Post on Wednesday that the death wasn’t being considered a fishery crime because its carcass didn’t have any marks to indicate foul play.
He said the 20kg carcass had swelled up, causing its skin to crack.
“It was not electrocuted. I’ve already looked for a possible cause. We have done work there before and my working group is trying to figure this out.
“They don’t know why the calf died because its carcass has no marks. The working group, in collaboration with WWF-Cambodia, transported the carcass to a laboratory to take samples and perform the autopsy. We will have an answer once they assess their findings,” Kin said.
The senior leadership of the Fisheries Administration, researchers and scientists, he said, will have the final say in the case. They will hold a meeting on Thursday to discuss how to better protect the dolphins, he added.
A Kratie commune resident first reported the dead dolphin, and the commune chief reported it to Kin, and he contacted WWF-Cambodia, which sent agents to collect the carcass.
Kin said offences in the area had declined because where the calf was found – near the river – has 11 checkpoints and guards on standby 24 hours a day.
At present, there are 92 Mekong River dolphins, he said, and that from January to March, five calves were born. Of them, two had died – the one on Tuesday and another weighing 16kg.
“Kratie provincial fisheries officials tracked the dolphins and identified the recently deceased calf by its code number. They have to know which dolphins died, and when. They have the data,” Kin said.
The provincial authorities would impose the strictest measures possible at Thursday’s meeting for the guards stationed at the main protection areas, and hopefully, they will not be lacklustre in guarding them, he said.
WWF Cambodia communications director Tep Asnarith told The Post on Wednesday that the Irrawaddy dolphins are one of the most endangered species on earth. The death of the calf made scientists and those who performed the autopsy very worried, he said.
“The Cambodian Fisheries Administration and WWF-Cambodia are collaborating to investigate the cause of death,” Asnarith said.