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Irrawaddy dolphin calf washed up in T Khmum

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An Irrawaddy dolphin calf was found dead in Kroch Chhmar district’s Roka Khnor commune in Tbong Khmum province on November 13. WWF

Irrawaddy dolphin calf washed up in T Khmum

The World Wildlife Fund for Nature-Cambodia (WWF-Cambodia) expressed its condolences over the death of an Irrawaddy dolphin calf in Kroch Chhmar district’s Roka Khnor commune in Tbong Khmum province.

Officials suspected that the calf may be the offspring of an Irrawaddy dolphin which died last week .

Ouk Vibol, director of the Fisheries Conservation Department, told The Post that the deceased dolphin was about seven days old, weighed around 12kg and was 103cm long. At that age, dolphins are still nursed by their mothers. An autopsy found no signs of physical injuries or gillnet entanglement, Vibol said.

“We did not find any scars. It died recently in Tbong Khmum. If it died in Kratie or Stung Treng province, it would have rotted by the time it flowed to Tbong Khmum.

“We suspect that this dolphin calf may have been following its mother because it is still nursing. The 28-year-old dolphin that died in Tbong Khmum [recently] may be the mother of this baby dolphin,” he said.

Vibol said he would participate in an online video conference on Monday with WWF and river guards in Kratie and Stung Treng provinces to assess the situation. He said it was also possible that the calf could have been killed by male dolphins that could have hit it with their tails as it followed its ageing mother.

The WWF issued a statement on November 14 expressing condolences for the dead dolphin. It said the carcass was fresh and likely had died within 48 hours of its discovery.

“Entanglement in gillnets and illegal fishing practices are among the major known causes of death in adult dolphins in the past. However, the cause of calf mortality remains unclear, raising serious concern over the future survival of the species.

“Urgent need for more collective action to save the Mekong dolphins population from extinction after the latest census shows only 89 individuals still swim in the Mekong river,” it said.

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