The fifth Mekong Irrawaddy dolphin calf of the year was spotted on June 28, swimming alongside nine adults just north of Kratie town.

The sighting of the then days-old calf was recorded by a research team of environmental NGO World Wide Fund for Nature- (WWF) Cambodia.

The calf's presence was detected in the Anlong Kampi Irrawaddy dolphin conservation area along the Mekong River in Sambok commune of Kratie province's Chitr Borei district, WWF-Cambodia said.

Also known by their scientific name Orcaella brevirostris, the Kingdom's beloved Irrawaddy dolphins are facing perilous waters, with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2017 flagging the riverine mammal as ‘critically endangered’ in an update to its ‘Red List’.

Censuses conducted by the Fisheries Administration and WWF-Cambodia show 13 and nine births in 2019-2020, respectively, and eight and nine deaths, leaving the total population of Irrawaddy dolphins in the Kingdom's reaches of the Mekong at just 89.

From 2007-2020 the average annual growth rate has been 1.02 per cent and the average annual death rate has been 2.14 per cent, signalling a slow demise of the gentle creatures, according to a joint report by the two organisations.

“Stronger and more collective actions are needed to protect them from going extinct in the river,” WWF-Cambodia warned.

The NGO's monitoring programme checks the status of the dolphins and estimates their numbers along the 180km of the Mekong River between Kratie town and the Cambodia-Laos border.