Mekong River dolphin update

Since the last news report on this website regarding Mekong River dolphins (posted 3 July 2014), the WWF-Cambodia team based in Kratie, working in collaboration with the Fisheries Department in Phnom Penh, have continued their valiant efforts to conserve and study this small, Critically Endangered population. Some of the outcomes of their work are described here. It is great to hear that at least through March, no dead dolphins had been reported in 2016, and several calves had survived their first year of life. Also, the “river guards” program is apparently functioning well.

In late March, Frances Gulland (Wildlife Health Specialist Group) visited Kratie to carry out necropsies on five dolphins that died in 2015. She concluded that one of the two adults had died from entanglement in fishing gear; the other was too decomposed to diagnose the cause of death but it was fat and heavily scarred (typical of adults in this population). Of the three calves, two had been stillborn and one died from trauma. Efforts are ongoing and more are planned to investigate why young calves in this population have been experiencing exceptionally high mortality.