Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Irrawaddy dolphins red listed

Irrawaddy dolphins red listed

Photo courtesy of WWF Cambodia
Photo courtesy of WWF Cambodia

Irrawaddy dolphins red listed

Cambodia’s beloved Irrawaddy dolphins are facing troubled waters, with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) yesterday flagging the riverine mammal as ‘critically endangered’ in an update to its ‘Red List’.

The dolphins are often caught in gillnets, which cast broad tangles of net that create the greatest threat to the freshwater mammals, according to the IUCN release. Overfishing of the dolphins’ food sources and habitat destruction have also led to a 50 percent drop in population in the past 60 years, the release said. Randall Reeves, chair of the IUCN SSC Cetacean Specialist Group, said in an IUCN release that the dolphin is a major tourism draw along the Mekong River, especially in Cambodia.

“While the protected status of the species means that deliberate hunting or capture is rare or non-existent, protection from entanglement and other threats is either lacking entirely or largely ineffective,” Reeves said. Youk Senglong, deputy executive director for the Fisheries Action Coalition Team (FACT), yesterday acknowledged illegal fishing as a contributing factor to the dolphins’ decline, but he pointed to hydropower dams upstream on the Mekong as the most serious source of trauma.

“Now the Irrawaddy is really in danger, and there should be prompt and effective intervention from the government and other relevant stakeholders, such as development partners, to conserve it,” he said in an email.

MOST VIEWED

  • Stock photo agencies cash in on Khmer Rouge tragedy
    Stock-photo companies selling images from S-21 raises ethics concerns

    A woman with short-cropped hair stares directly into the camera, her head cocked slightly to the side. On her lap is a sleeping infant just barely in the frame. The woman was the wife of a Khmer Rouge officer who fell out of favour, and

  • Defence Ministry denies weapons in smuggling case came from Cambodia

    After a Thai national was arrested last week for allegedly smuggling guns from Cambodia to Thailand, Cambodia's Defence Ministry has claimed the weapons seized during the arrest are not used in Cambodia, despite the fact that both types of rifle seized are commonly found in

  • Prime Minister: Take back islands from inactive developers

    The government will “take back” land on roughly 30 islands from private companies that have not made progress on planned developments, Prime Minister Hun Sen said in a speech on Monday that also targeted land-grabbing villagers and idle provincial governors. Speaking at the inauguration of the

  • Land on capital’s riverfront is opened up for investment

    The government has signed off on a proposal to designate more than 9 hectares of land along Phnom Penh’s riverfront as state-private land, opening it up for private investment or long-term leasing. The 9.25-hectare stretch of riverfront from the capital’s Night Market to the