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Second Irrawaddy dolphin calf seen in Mekong River

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A dolphin calf was seen in Mekong River in Stung Treng province last week. WWF

Second Irrawaddy dolphin calf seen in Mekong River

A six-day-old Irrawaddy dolphin calf was spotted among four adults at Kampi Resort along the Mekong River in Kratie province on the evening of March 5, World Wildlife Fund-Cambodia said via Facebook.

Researchers from the Fisheries Administration and WWF-Cambodia lit up with elation at the scene of the second dolphin calf recorded this year, following a sighting of a week-old calf at a natural sanctuary in Stung Treng province late last month.

“The current events represent one of the most encouraging encounters by the research team as part of their dolphin monitoring and photo-ID based surveys,” WWF-Cambodia said.

WWF-Cambodia public affairs director Tep Asnarith told The Post on March 7 that the Irrawaddy dolphin is critically endangered according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.

He stressed that each dolphin is critical to the continuation of this valuable freshwater species.

“I, as well as WWF, am very excited about having logged two new baby dolphins in 2021,” he said.

According to Asnarith, the presence of the dolphins indicates ecological quality and high levels of biodiversity along the Mekong River which can support human, animal and plant life that is dependent on the river ecosystem.

Last year, researchers registered nine newborn dolphin calves and 13 in 2019, WWF-Cambodia figures show.

Separately, Ratanakkiri provincial Department of Environment rangers on March 6 handed over two leopard-cat kittens (Prionailurus bengalensis) – another rare and vulnerable species – to BirdLife International.

Department head Phon Khemrin told The Post that the kittens had been found a day earlier by officials stationed at Border Police Battalion 623, who said the parents had fled attack by village dogs.

Its chief Nin Nan turned the kittens over to the rangers, he said, pointing out that the police outpost is located in Nhang commune’s Tang Chi village in the province’s Andong Meas district.

“Without the technical expertise to take care of these young animals, our team was obliged to hand them over to a partner organisation [BirdLife] to take care of them for the time being,” Khemrin said.

BirdLife International’s Cambodia Programme Manager Bou Vorsak told The Post that the kittens were now in the care of his team at the Ratanakkiri branch. “We will send them to the Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity to look after them, and when they grow up and have the ability to forage on their own, we will release them into protected areas.”

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