Conserving Dolphins in the Mekong River | WWF

Conserving Dolphins in the Mekong River



The Cambodian Mekong Dolphin Conservation Project (CMDCP) is a collaborative effort between WWF, the Cambodian Rural Development Team (CRDT) and the Fisheries Administration that addresses the urgent need to conserve the Mekong dolphin by implementing the government’s Cambodian Mekong Dolphin Conservation Strategy.
As a flagship species, the Mekong Dolphin requires an unpolluted environment, sufficient water to move among deep pools, and adequate food supply – factors that are critical components of a healthy river ecosystem and necessary for humans and riverine wildlife alike. The aim of the project is to maintain a viable population of dolphins in the Mekong and protect the environmental health of the river. To achieve this, the Cambodian Mekong Dolphin Conservation Project works in four key areas:
 
  1. Threat reduction
    • Developing regulations and a dolphin habitat zonal use system in conjunction with the Government to protect dolphins and their core habitat
    • Proper management of dolphin-watching ecotourism
    • Working with communities and NGOs to ensure sustainable management of local fisheries and the inclusion of dolphin conservation within their activities
    • Providing alternative sources of livelihood for fishing communities adjacent to core dolphin habitats in partnership with the Cambodian Rural Development Team
  2. Education and awareness
    • Ensuring all stakeholders are aware of regulations relating to dolphin conservation
    • Producing educational signboards and materials for tourists and the Cambodian public
    • Educational village workshops and school visits for communities adjacent to core dolphin habitats
    • Integrating monks into environmental education
  3. Research focusing on
    • Dolphin mortality, especially the mysteriously high calf mortality rate
    • Dolphin population and distribution surveys
    • Impacts of dolphin watching tourism on dolphins
    • Genetic research to assess population viability and discreetness
    • Monitoring threats to dolphins
  4. Co-operation and regional co-ordination
    • Build cross border co-operation between stakeholders at the trans-boundary dolphin pool and develop a trans-boundary pool conservation strategy
    • Establish a community trans-boundary pool conservation group
    • Improve fisheries management and community enforcement at the trans-boundary pool.
 
	© Norng Sivuthan / WWF-Cambodia
Education and awareness are an important part of WWF's work to reduce threats to the Mekong's Irrawaddy dolphins
© Norng Sivuthan / WWF-Cambodia
 
	© Hang Sereyvuth / WWF-Cambodia
The research team is waiting for Mekong Irrawaddy dolphins to surface during the 2010 population survey in northern Cambodia.
© Hang Sereyvuth / WWF-Cambodia
 
	© Hang Sereyvuth / WWF-Cambodia
Students learn about Mekong River conservation during school visits to communities adjacent to core dolphin habitats
© Hang Sereyvuth / WWF-Cambodia