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Last Remaining Irrawady Dolphin in Anlong Chheuteal Has Died

Stung Treng: The last remaining dolphin, code 035, living in the Anlong Chheuteal section of the Mekong River, was found dead by a fisherman. The dolphin is estimated to have died around 12 February 2022, but the body was found floating in the river on 15 February, according to the Director of the Conservation Department of the Fisheries Administration, Ouk Vibol. This is despite numerous efforts from the conservation team to save the dolphin’s life.

The Director added that the death of this dolphin “is a tragedy for the conservation team as well as for Cambodia as a whole” as this death “means that the Anlong Chheuteal area on the border of Stung Treng province in Cambodia and Champasak province in Laos is no longer inhabited by dolphins."

The Acting Director of the Stung Treng Fisheries Administration District, Sam Vichet, reports, “On February 15, 2022, at 4:20 AM, a 52-year-old fisherman named Cheata found the body of a dolphin floating near the rocks at the head of Koh La Ngor village. He informed the river guard of Anlong Chheuteal Dolphin Conservation and went to retrieve the body of the dolphin and keep it at Kbal Koh La Ngor, Borey O'Svay Senchey district, Stung Treng province. After examining the body and preparing to store the carcass, the river guard also informed the officer in charge of dolphin work of Stung Treng Fisheries Administration District that the dead dolphin weighed about 110 kg and was 2 meters long.”

Sam Vichet added that after a thorough inspection by the Dolphin Conservation Team of Stung Treng Fisheries Administration and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) staff, it was confirmed that the dolphin was a male dolphin over 20 years of age.

Kong Chanthy, the head of the fishing community network in Borey O'Svay Senchey district in Stung Treng province bordering Laos, said that “Mekong River dolphins are revered by Cambodians as sacred animals because they contribute to the livelihood of the community [living by the river], and provide an important source of income and employment around community-based eco-tourism."

Ouk Vibol also added that the Fisheries Administration would work with WWF to build a dolphin statue on the riverbank of Anlong Chheuteal so that future generations will know that dolphins once lived in this area. The retrieved body of the dolphin will be temporarily stored at the Kratie Administrative District. The Director added that the conservation team will continue to pay attention to protecting dolphins in the river canyons of Kratie and Stung Treng provinces of Cambodia, to ensure that the aquatic mammals will continue to survive in these areas forever.



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