WWF-Cambodia celebrates the birth of two Mekong dolphin calves
Camera in hand, freshwater project assistant Tan Bunwath visited the location immediately to take detailed photos confirming the first new born, believed to be two or three weeks old. On 13th August another calf, suspected to be only a few days old, was sighted by local people and the WWF research team at the Kampi deep pool 16km from Kratie town.
Such news shows encouraging signs of further stabilisation of the Mekong Irrawaddy dolphin population. During the period, January-August 2017, two dolphins died and eight dolphin births have been recorded. This is a high achievement compared to the same period last year (January-August 2016), when four dolphins died and only four were born. More than ever, there is hope to believe it is possible to reverse the trend of the Mekong Dolphin decline.
WWF-Cambodia Country Director, Seng Teak, reflects on the good news: “I am so happy to hear about the successful recruitment of the two new calves into the population. Without our dedicated river guards and tireless field work, we would not be able to welcome these new-borns.”
The biggest threats to the Mekong dolphins, especially the calves, are illegal fishing practices, declining water levels, river pollution, and new proposed hydropower dams on the Mekong mainstream. Mekong Irrawaddy dolphins are a Cambodian national treasure, yet, there are only an estimated 80 adults left in the Mekong river, a critically endangered species on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list.
WWF-Cambodia has been actively engaged in the Cambodian Mekong Dolphin Conservation Project since 2007 with the aim to reduce mortalities and increase the population through law enforcement, community outreach, livelihoods development and research.