An Irrawaddy dolphin, weighing around 100kg and 2.27m long, was found dead along the Mekong River in Preah Romkil commune's Anlong Svay village of Stung Treng province's O'Svay Senchey district on April 22.

Officials said the carcass was seen afloat with its tail stuck in a wild patch of rai teuk -- an aquatic plant that grows in flooded sandy or rocky ground.

Srey Sam Vichet, head of the provincial Fisheries Administration Cantonment, told The Post on April 23 that his officials worked with WWF Cambodia to retrieve the carcass of the endangered species, also known by its scientific name Orcaella brevirostris, for further study after learning of the discovery by river guards and the local fishing community.

"The dolphin had died many days ago because its tail was stuck in the wild patch and its flesh was swollen and rotten, to such an extent that we could not determine whether it was male or female," he said.

Sam Vichet said after examining its teeth, which were decayed, experts from the cantonment and WWF Cambodia determined that the dolphin was around 20 years old. According to WWF Cambodia, life expectancy of Irrawaddy dolphins is around 30 years.

After an examination, district authorities asked to keep the carcass so they could prepare and put it on display for tourists to see and learn about the gentle creatures. It was skinned and the remainder of the carcass was buried.

According to WWF Cambodia, five Irrawaddy dolphins were found dead in Stung Treng and neighbouring Kratie provinces in 2018, with the number increasing to eight in 2019 and nine in 2020. So far this year, four have been found dead.

It estimated that there are between 31 and 36 Irrawaddy dolphins remaining in Stung Treng.