NOM PEN, Cambodia ( Associated Press) — Three endangered freshwater dolphins have died within 10 days of each other, a fact that has raised alarm among conservationists in Cambodia.
The death of a third healthy dolphin in such a short period of time indicates an “increasingly alarming situation and an urgent need for intensive enforcement of dolphin habitats,” the Global Fund for Nature said in a statement on Monday.
The latest death of an Irrawaddy dolphin, believed to have become entangled in an illegal fishing line, underscored the need for authorities to help save the species, also known as the Mekong River dolphin, according to the release.
WWF said the carcass of a healthy dolphin, estimated to be between seven and 10 years old, was found floating in a river in the eastern province of Krati on Saturday. He said an examination of its remains suggested that the dolphin, 196 cm (6.5 ft) long and 93 kg (205 lb), had been strangled and wrapped in a tangle of fishing line.
WWF Cambodia director Seng Teak said in the statement that without immediate action, “the recent increase in illegal fishing activities in dolphin protection areas” will wipe out Cambodia’s Mekong river dolphin population.
The statement calls for intensifying day and night patrolling operations to protect the remaining dolphins in conservation areas.
The first census of Cambodian Irrawaddy dolphins in 1997 estimated their total population to be around 200. By 2020, the population was projected to decline to 89.
WWF claims that 11 dolphins are expected to die in 2022, bringing the total number of deaths in the past three years to 29.