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Scientists Gain Insight into Endangered Mekong Giant after Tracking It for a Year

STUNG TRENG: Researchers have collected data about the largest freshwater fish ever recorded over the last year, which they hope will assist in protecting the species and its habitat as large as freshwater megafauna continue to disappear.

The Wonders of the Mekong project, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), collaborated with the Cambodian Fisheries Administration to track the 300-kilogram giant stingray, which scientists named “Boramey”, after he was caught in northeast Cambodia last June.

Researchers equipped Boramey with an acoustic tag before releasing him back into the Mekong River, which showed that although he is very large, his habitat is quite small and consists of deep pools, flowing channels, flooded forests, sandbars, and rocky outcrops which are full of biodiversity, but threatened by hydropower dams that affect water flow and depth.

The new director of Wonders of the Mekong, Joseph Hogan, noted that new information on stingrays and other endangered Cambodian species is important for their protection and the conservation of rivers that provide food for millions of people.

He said the giant stingray is now at the center of a major debate around the fate of the Mekong River and how to balance development with environmental management. If taken care of, the magnificent Mekong can continue to supply local people for generations to come.

Recent studies indicate that populations of giant freshwater species have plummeted by almost 90% over the past 40 years due to lack of habitat and food supply.

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