Local authorities and community members in Stung Treng province have prepared an Irrawaddy dolphin skeleton for display at Ochheuteal Dolphin Canyon in Borei O’Svay Sen Chey district’s Preah Romkel commune for exhibit to the public.

The female dolphin, weighing 180kg and is 230cm long, died in June. Aging was believed to be the cause of its death as the animal was 25 to 30 years old, a typical lifespan for the species.

Sorn Panh, chief of Anlong Svay village in Preah Rumkel commune and head of the river guard, said Irrawaddy dolphin is now a rare species. There were once many dolphins in the Ochheuteal Canyon, but now there is only one 20-year-old dolphin remaining as the other two died earlier this year.

“No matter what the display will be like, there are some artifacts to exhibit for those who want to visit.

“We also have photos to place in the cabinet with the skeleton. One of the dolphins that died was used to prepare the skeleton for the exhibit. We will make glass cabinets for the display, and we are raising fund to help us complete this work quickly,” he said.

According to Panh, the Ochheuteal Dolphin Canyon has great potential to view the Irrawaddy dolphin with a tourist guide service.

Panh said local authorities and communities have developed this exhibit by garnering the support of donors and raising awareness among relevant institutions to help promote this initiative.

Srey Sam Vichet, acting head of the provincial Fisheries Administration, said the other Irrawaddy dolphin body has been stored at the World Wild Fund for Nature (WWF Cambodia) for an autopsy.

At the request of local authorities and communities, the Fisheries Administration and WWF Cambodia have left the dolphin skeleton at Ochheuteal Dolphin Canyon for the communities and local authorities to use to attract tourists and provide information for future generations visiting this place.

The provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the Fisheries Administration are planning to meet with district authorities, local communities and the Department of Tourism to discuss the development of dolphin exhibits and preparing the canyon as a dolphin viewing area.

“We may need an expert from WWF Cambodia at the request of the authorities or the community or the tourism department to have them as experts in restoring the dolphin skeleton back to its original condition,” he said.