A senior official from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, along with representatives from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Cambodia, attended the Global Declaration of River Dolphins event in Bogota, Colombia, on October 23-24.

The Cambodian delegation was led by ministry secretary of state Prak David, according to the ministry’s October 25 social media post.

The forum, which coincided with International Freshwater Dolphin Day, revolved around refining the Global Declaration for River Dolphins. Following these deliberations, the attendees collectively endorsed a global declaration for the official use in addressing matters concerning freshwater cetaceans.

This declaration is designed to guide 14 nations where river dolphins inhabit, with a focus on responsible freshwater dolphin conservation. It encompasses eight key principles: the establishment of a network of protected areas; the enhancement of river dolphin site management; the expansion of research and monitoring; engagement with local communities and indigenous peoples; eradication of unsustainable fishing practices; efforts to improve water quality and quantity; commemoration of World River Dolphin Day to raise awareness; and increased resource allocation and partnerships.

The participating nations convened on October 23 to share experiences in protecting dolphins and discuss solutions to common challenges. During the meeting, Cambodia presented its experiences in river dolphin management, focusing on aspects like legal preparations, research, law enforcement, ecosystem management, educational initiatives, and the enhancement of local community livelihoods.

As a heartfelt gesture, the Cambodian delegation played the song “Dolphin, my sweetheart,” performed by beloved pop star Meas Soksophea, which drew the attention and applause of the attendees.

WWF country director Seng Teak expressed his appreciation on October 25 through a social media post. He said it was his honour to attend the meeting to adopt the Global Declaration for River Dolphins.

“Cambodia is one of the 14 nations in Asia and South America where river dolphins still inhabit. These river dolphins serve as crucial indicators of a river’s overall health in their respective habitats. The joint global declaration saw participation from all river dolphin range states on International Freshwater Dolphin Day,” Teak said.

“I am optimistic that this joint global declaration will galvanise increased capacities and resources to tackle the pivotal issues concerning global populations of river dolphins, while fostering a better understanding of the socio-economic dynamics across the river dolphins’ range states. Together, we can make a positive impact,” he added.