The last known freshwater Irrawaddy dolphin on a stretch of the Mekong River in northeastern Cambodia has died, apparently after getting tangled in a fishing net, wildlife officials said Wednesday.
The aquatic mammal was found dead Tuesday on a riverbank in Stung Treng province near the border with Laos, Cambodia’s Fisheries Conservation Department announced on its Facebook page.
The Irrawaddy dolphin, also known as the Mekong River dolphin, is classified as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Other groups of these dolphins are still to be found farther downstream in Cambodia and in two other freshwater rivers — Myanmar’s Irrawaddy and Indonesia’s Mahakam on the island of Borneo.
The first census of Irrawaddy dolphins in Cambodia in 1997 estimated their total population was about 200. In 2020, the population was estimated to have fallen to 89, almost all in the group that still exists downstream from Stung Treng.