Phnom Penh, Cambodia– After decades of seemingly irreversible decline, results from a WWF and Government of Cambodia census released today show that the population of critically endangered river dolphins in the Mekong has risen from 80 to 92 in the past two years – the first increase since records began more than twenty years ago. Effective river patrolling by teams of river guards and the strict confiscation of illegal gillnets, which accidentally trap and drown dolphins, are the main reasons for this historic increase.
Over the past two years 358 km of illegal gill nets – almost double the length of the dolphins’ remaining home range – have been confiscated from core dolphin habitat. The first official census in 1997 estimated that there were 200 Irrawaddy dolphins in the Mekong, a figure that fell steadily due to by-catch and habitat loss until there were only 80 left in 2015.
But now the decline appears to be on the mend. Along with the 10 per cent increase in dolphins, the surveys also point toward encouraging signs for the long-term health of the population, with an improvement in the survival rate of dolphins into adulthood, an increase in the number of calves and a drop in overall deaths.
Source: WWF Global