The body of a 100-kilogram Irrawaddy dolphin from Cambodia was found dead in Vietnamese territory and repatriated to its home waters yesterday, officials said.
Im Phat, deputy chief of the Fishery Administration in Takeo province’s Angkor Borei district, said two endangered freshwater Irrawaddy dolphins – fewer than 90 are estimated to still exist in the Mekong River – were reported on Saturday to have travelled from Kratie to the border province of Takeo following flooding.
“They are a protected dolphin in Kratie but swam to Takeo province. We tried to find them because we were afraid fishermen would catch them,” Phat said.
But three days after the dolphins made the journey, Vietnamese authorities informed the Fishery Administration that one of the dolphins had been found dead in the country’s Ang Yang province, Phat said.
He added that the Fishery Administration asked Vietnam to return the dolphin yesterday so that the cause of death could be examined.
But as of yesterday afternoon, Phat said, “we do not clearly know the reason why it died but maybe the dolphin did not get used to living in Vietnam’s rivers”.
Nub Samnang, chief of the fishery community in Takeo, said that after the dolphins were reported to be in the province’s waters, he ordered fishermen not to catch the protected species, but to report any sightings.
“We are sorry that the protected dolphin is dead,” Samnang said.
Having seen the dolphin’s body yesterday, Samnang noted that there were no visible wounds.
Officials and fishermen were still searching for the second dolphin yesterday afternoon.