Cambodia creates safe zones for Mekong dolphins
Wonderful news from the Cambodian government that was announced on Aug. 24 where they said they will limit fishing in a zone in the Mekong River to protect critically endangered freshwater dolphins. The Cambodian government said the measure was approved in their weekly cabinet meeting. The Mekong River Irrawaddy dolphin has been listed as critically endangered since 2004, according to WWF.
The government estimates there are between 155 and 175 Irrawaddy dolphins left in Cambodia's stretch of the Mekong River, but last year the WWF put the figure at just 85 left. Irrawaddy dolphins are also found in coastal areas in south and southeast Asia, in the Irrawaddy river in Myanmar and in the Mahakam river in Indonesia.
The Irrawaddy dolphin conservation area will cover a 180-kilometer-long (110 miles) stretch of river from the eastern Kratie province to the border with Laos. Fishing will still be allowed inside the zone but the use of floating houses, fish cages and gill nets will be banned as they are a major risk to the dolphins. Getting caught up in gill nets is the leading cause of death in adult Irrawaddy dolphins. The animals also suffer from high calf mortality rates, for which the cause is still unclear, and from habitat degradation.
The newly created protected area will sustainably preserve the dolphins and at the same time serve the eco-tourism sector. Michelle Owen, WWF-Cambodia director, said the creation of the protection zone was "welcome news" that "demonstrates the commitment of the Cambodian government to conserve this iconic and endangered species." Hopefully this is only the start of these type of actions taken by other countries around the world to help preserve endangered animals.
VIDEO Irrawaddy dolphins in the Mekong River