The Cambodian Government’s Fisheries Administration and WWF announced today that the Irrawaddy dolphin population in the Mekong River numbers just 89.
The number is a slight decline from the estimate of 92 in 2018 but shows that the population has stabilised in recent years after decades of precipitous decline.
Critically, the survey’s findings also indicate a positive survival rate of calves through to adulthood, with a ‘recruitment rate’ of 4.22% – the highest documented in the past decade – signalling an improving trend for the dolphin population.
“Although the survey confirmed that number of river dolphins in Cambodia has stabilised, the population size is still small, so stronger conservation action is urgently needed,” said Mr Seng Teak, WWF Country Director.
The population is ranked as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List, the highest international threat ranking for endangered species, and is restricted to a 180km stretch of the mainstream Mekong River in Cambodia between Kratie and Khone Falls on the border with Laos.
The Irrawaddy dolphins are fully protected under Cambodia’s Fisheries Law. The dolphins, however, continue to face great danger. Gill nets, development of upstream dams, overfishing, and illegal fishing practices such as electrofishing are among major known treats to the survival of the species.