A member of a fishing community found the carcass of an older female dolphin in Sambok village in Kratie province’s Chitr Borei district on December 22, about 500m from the Kampi dolphin site.
Mok Ponlok, director of the provincial Fisheries Administration, said on December 23 that the female dolphin weighed 201kg and was 2.3m in length. It had previously been tagged by scientists and was identified as dolphin ID-95, an animal that was known to be living in the Kampi dolphin conservation zone.
“I think the reality is that this dolphin simply died of old age because its teeth were eroded, both above and below, and there are no bruises or scratches on its body or tail,” he said.
According to Ponlok, after verifying the animal’s identity and taking measurements, the team had decided to take a tissue sample to be kept for possible study at the provincial branch of World Wildlife Fund in Cambodia WWF-Cambodia.
Sao Sinoeun, a fisherman from the Sambok community, found the dolphin’s carcass floating in the water and reported it to a ranger.
“I was very sorry to find the dolphin in such a state. It probably died last night [December 21], because the carcass was still fresh and in good condition, and there were no injuries to it at all,” he said.
Tep Asnarith, WWF-Cambodia’s public relations director, told The Post on December 23 that a dolphin expert who was called in to the scene verified that it was a female dolphin and estimated that it was probably between 27 and 30 years old, having died of old age.
The Mekong River dolphin is an extremely rare animal and listed as critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
A number of different organisations have made efforts towards its conservation including the WWF- Cambodia, which have cooperated closely with the government to try to protect the remaining dolphins.
Ouk Vibol, director of the Department of Fisheries Conservation under the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said on December 23 that, there are between 120 and 130 dolphins, including newborns, still living in the Mekong River in Kratie and Stung Treng provinces.
However, he also noted that there are only 89 female dolphins of breeding age currently, a drop from 2017 when there were over 90 of them inhabiting Cambodia’s stretch of the Mekong.