Wildlife conservationists have issued more calls for an increase in strict and regular law enforcement in order to save the Mekong dolphins from extinction, following the death of a female specimen.

The Fisheries Administration and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Cambodia on December 23 reported the death of another female Mekong dolphin in Koh Trung commune, Kratie town. Its carcass was discovered floating in the river a day earlier by a local citizen, who reported the incident to WWF and relevant authorities soon after the discovery.

The Fisheries Administration and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) issued a press release saying that the dolphin was an adult female of 193cm long, aged between 7-10 years old, which weighed about 85kg.

A research team from the Kratie fisheries administration cantonment and the WWF suggested that the dolphin died after becoming entangled in monofilament gillnet. Signs of gillnet were discovered on the fluke of the animal, it said.

This is the tenth death recorded this year and the 28th in the last 3 years.

“These last few days have seen the deaths of two dolphins. This is a very serious and worrying sign of the trend towards the extinction of the species in the Mekong River,” said Seng Teak, WWF-Cambodia Country Director.

According to the statement, about 70 per cent of the Mekong dolphins’ population is older than 20 years old, approaching the end of the age limit for breeding. The life expectance of Irrawaddy dolphins is between 27 and 30 years.

The WWF called on all relevant authorities to roll out appropriate measures to urgently address the mortality caused by the known threats of gillnets and electro-fishing that are taking place in the dolphin conservation areas.

“The only solution to this man-made crisis is for all responsible authorities to implement strict law enforcement actions against these illegal fishing activities in the dolphin habitat areas – with an increase of the patrolling at night, when the majority of the illegal fishing occurs,” Teak said.