The newborn Irrawaddy dolphin which was discovered earlier this week in Kratie province is the first one recorded this year, a World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF)-Cambodia report said.
According to the report, a group of dolphin-watching tourist-boat operators on Monday spotted a dolphin calf, about three days old, in the Kampi dolphin pool in Chitr Borei district’s Sambok commune.
The deputy director of Kratie’s fisheries administration, Tan Someth Bunwat, said the newborn was seen swimming among the adult members of its pod.
The finding was reported to the tourist police at Kampi Resort who then forwarded it to the WWF-Cambodia team based in Kratie, Bunwat said.
The latter went to look for it upon being informed and immediately found a pod of dolphins, including the calf, he said.
Bunwat continued that the team had taken photos and videos of the calf and its mother and monitored the pod going about its activities for about two hours.
“It was the first calf to be recorded this year,” he said, quoting the WWF-Cambodia report.
Sien Kin, head of Kratie’s fisheries administration, declined to comment on the matter. And neither did the provincial Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries department director, Try Sopheak.
In an email sent on Thursday, WWF-Cambodia Country Director Seng Teak said the discovery of the newborn “reflects the positive result of joint efforts in conserving Irrawaddy dolphins between WWF-Cambodia and conservation partners – such as the ministries of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries; Environment; Tourism; fisheries communities, tourism agencies, authorities at provincial, district, and commune levels, and many other partners”.
Quoting a previous WWF report, Teak said: “The dolphin population in the Mekong river, particularly in Kratie and Stung Treng provinces, had increased to 92 in 2017.”
The same report also said that nine dolphins were born last year. However, it noted that their habitats continue to face threats.
The major threats to the Mekong dolphins are illegal fishing practices. The newly proposed hydropower dams on the Mekong mainstream, if constructed, would have catastrophic impacts to dolphin populations and their future survival.
“WWF-Cambodia is working closely with the fisheries department to protect the threatened species through law enforcement, community outreach, livelihoods development and research. WWF supports 72 river guards based in 16 outposts in the provinces of Kratie and Stung Treng."
“WWF provides equipment and training to build the capacity of those river guards to effectively perform their tasks. Those river guards patrol regularly to protect illegal fishing activities in the core zones and buffer zones to conserve the Mekong dolphins and we are thankful for their service,” it said.