A dead Irrawaddy dolphin found on the beach in Koh Trong commune’s Kbal Koh village in Kratie town was handed over to the WWF research team for study and to determine how the animal died, according to Mok Ponlok, director of the Kratie provincial Fisheries Administration.
Ponlok said that after receiving information from local residents that they had seen the carcass floating, river guards from the Fisheries Administration searched and found it on January 8.
They then brought it to the research team but as of January 9 had not yet received a report on how it died.
“I do not know yet whether the dolphin is a male or female, how big it was or which pool it lived in,” he said.
He added that the area where the dolphins live is a major destination that attracted a lot of local and international tourists. He was concerned that if the dolphins continued to die and eventually went extinct, it would negatively impact tourism.
The news followed an annual report issued by Word Wide Fund for Nature Cambodia (WWF-Cambodia) mentioning that a newborn Irrawaddy dolphin aged about two weeks was found swimming with a pod of five adults at the Kampi Dolphin Pool on the Mekong River in Kampi village on December 31.
WWF-Cambodia said a total of six calves were born in 2021 – a drop of three compared to 2020 when nine were recorded.
In a separate case, Stung Treng provincial Fisheries Administration said on January 10 that their officials had spotted a fresh water dolphin which was swimming with its tail entangled in fishing nets. The administration has instructed six river guards to keep an eye on it.
Srey Sam Vichet, head of the provincial Fisheries Administration, said the dolphin was first spotted on January 6 with its tail wrapped in fishing nets at Anlong Chheu Teal Pool in the Preah Rumkel community-based ecotourism site. Cambodian river guards and members of a conservation group working in Laos had tried cutting the nets from its tail but failed in their attempt.
However, Sam Vichet said WWF-Cambodia recommended against taking that approach in saving the dolphin as the stress of the encounter could possibly kill it.
“For now we don’t have any other better plan besides just keeping an eye on it and our river guards are following it,” he said.
According to Sam Vichet, fishing nets can sometimes entangle dolphins and lead to their deaths, but the pictures that he has seen of this particular dolphin show that it can still swim and hunt for food well enough to survive.