Mekong River dolphin death reduces Lao population to five

7 April 2015

The discovery of a deceased female Irrawaddy river dolphin on Cheutal Touch Island, Cambodia – close to the border with Laos – is yet another reminder of the plight of this critically endangered cetacean in the Mekong River, WWF said on Tuesday. With just five animals remaining in Laos, WWF urged Laos and Cambodia to work together on common solutions to save one of the world’s most iconic species and a major source of tourist revenue.

The dolphin, weighing 223 kilogrammes and measuring 2.4 metres in length, was believed to be one of just six remaining in a 6-km2 trans-boundary river pool that spans the Laos-Cambodia border.

Locals spotted the dolphin on the island’s beach last Wednesday and immediately alerted the river authorities, which then transferred her to Kratie, Cambodia for inspection. Although the cause of death is yet to be determined, marks on her body indicate she was elderly.

“This is a very sad time for this dwindling population of dolphins,” said Thomas Gray, Manager of WWF’s Greater Mekong Species Programme. “There are now just five dolphins left in Laos and it is another warning that the species is facing the grave risk of extinction from the country, and also throughout the Mekong River.”

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