According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, a newborn baby Irrawaddy dolphin was observed swimming with adult dolphins in Kratie province’s Prek Kam Pi, Sambok commune, Chitr Borei district on April 15. The sighting was the second of the year.

The tour boat driver who spotted the young specimen reported the sighting to WWF personnel, the Kratie cantonment officer of the Fisheries Administration (FiA), and the Chief of the River Guard, said the ministry. It added that officials had recorded six births each in 2021 and 2022.

During the fisheries ministry’s annual review on March 24, the prime minister instructed the authorities to provide ID Poor cards to fishermen in the dolphin’s protected areas. The cards mean that cash support will be available to the fishermen while new occupations are found for them.

“If we provide them with ID Poor cards, they will receive enough support that they do not need to set gill nets. These nets are deadly to the dolphin population,” he said.

Men Kong, spokesman for the Stung Treng provincial administration, told The Post on April 18 that the cards have not yet been issued, as local authorities are still compiling the required data.

“The first step is to define the precise conditions needed to qualify for the cards. The second is to gather data from village chiefs, commune authorities, and the fisheries officials and river guards. Once this information has been compiled, it can be checked and approved,” he explained.

Men Vanna, spokesman for the Kratie provincial administration, said on April 18 that a census of the population that dwelt along the banks of the dolphin protected area had been carried out, in collaboration with the provincial FiA.

He added that questions about the census’s findings should be directed to FiA officials.

“If you need further information, please ask the fisheries administration – we supported the work, but did not analyse the data,” he said.

Mok Ponlok, director of the Kratie provincial FiA, said on April 18 that he was travelling and unavailable for comment.

Try Sopheak, director of the provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, was also unable to provide information.

However, Chitr Borei district governor Yin Vannak clarified that the ID Poor cards would not just be issued to fishermen and their families, but also to other impoverished residents of the district.

“No decision has yet been made on the alternative employment opportunities we intend to offer those who are affected,” he added.