More Irrawaddy dolphins found in Mekong River this year

Asia Times –

The population of Irrawaddy dolphins in the Mekong River has risen for the first time in years, raising hope for the critically endangered species.

Wildlife activists from WWF and the Cambodian government broke the good news on Monday, saying a new dolphin was born last week and there has now been three newborns this year.

“Results from a WWF and Government of Cambodia census released today show that the population of critically endangered river dolphins in the Mekong has risen from 80 to 92 in the past two years – the first increase since records began more than 20 years ago,” a statement by WWF said.

“Effective river patrolling by teams of river guards and the strict confiscation of illegal gill-nets, which accidentally trap and drown dolphins, are the main reasons for this historic increase. Over the past two years 358km of illegal gill-nets – almost double the length of the dolphins’ remaining home range – have been confiscated from core dolphin habitat.”

Seng Teak, country director for WWF Cambodia, said: “The tour boat operators are the secret ingredient in this success story as they work closely with law enforcement to report poaching and help confiscate illegal gill-nets.”

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