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UNESCO list request could help dolphins

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The Mekong River is home to the Irrawaddy dolphin, an endangered species. WWF

UNESCO list request could help dolphins

The ministries of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, and Environment, as well as the World Wide Fund for Nature Cambodia (WWF Cambodia), will request the Anlong Kampi Irrawaddy dolphin conservation area in Kratie province be added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday, WWF Cambodia said: “Today is the second day of our Khmer New Year, and it is also a day for people around the world to recognise the importance of the freshwater dolphin.

“In Cambodia, the Irrawaddy dolphin is considered the country’s national living treasure and currently inhabits the Mekong River in Kratie and Steung Treng provinces.”

The presence of dolphins in the Mekong is an indication of a healthy river rich with biodiversity and natural ecosystems.

“Together, let’s protect the Irrawaddy dolphin and promote the interwoven relationship of natural ecosystems and human well-being,” it said.

Ministry of Environment spokesman Neth Pheaktra said the Mekong dolphins are a valuable natural resource for Cambodia and the world alike as it is endangered.

“The Ministry of Environment fully supports the conservation work being done for these dolphins.

“They have actively participated in the promotion of the natural tourist sector in Cambodia. [The sector] helped create more jobs for local community members and generates income for the people. It helps them live a decent life,” he said.

He said his ministry, along with WWF Cambodia and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries had travelled to Prek Prasap district’s Chroy Banteay commune and Chitr Borei district’s Sambok and Thma Krae communes to study the area the dolphins call home.

They plan on submitting a request for the area to be put on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

“The government would like the area to be put on the list because it would help protect the Mekong River dolphins sustainably.

“The world would learn about biodiversity diversification in Cambodia, especially about the endangered species present in the Kingdom,” Pheaktra said.

WWF Cambodia country director Teak Seng said between early 2018 and last November, the Irrawaddy dolphin population increased some 15 per cent, from 80 to 92 dolphins.

In 2018, 10 dolphin calves were reported. From early 2019 to November 2019, 11 dolphin calves were born.

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