Cambodia creates safe zones for rare Mekong River dolphins

Phnom Penh, Feb 28 (IANS): Cambodia has created Irrawaddy dolphin conservation and protection zones covering a 120-km-long stretch of the Mekong River in the Stung Treng and Kratie provinces, according to a sub-decree.

Signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen, the sub-decree said the safe zone for the rare animal included 35 km in the main channel of the Mekong River in Stung Treng and 85 km in Kratie, reports Xinhua news agency.

"Fishing must be prohibited from the dolphin conservation and protection zones," the sub-decree said, adding that vessels must not be allowed to travel at the speed of more than 30 km per hour, while aquaculture is also banned.

The move came after three adult dolphins were killed by longline fishing hooks within a week in December 2022.

The Irrawaddy dolphins have been listed as critically endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species since 2004.

Kratie provincial governor Var Thorn has said that there are about 80 Irrawaddy dolphin population in the Cambodian portion of the Mekong River and that the rare mammal are very attractive to national and international tourists.

The Irrawaddy is a small dolphin that is dark grey in colour with a paler underside, a small rounded dorsal fin and a bluntly rounded head.

It can reach lengths of 2.75m, weighs up to 150 kg, and normally lives in groups of up to 6.

The Irrawaddy dolphin is one of only three whale and dolphin species that occupy both fresh and marine waters.



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Title: Cambodia creates safe zones for rare Mekong River dolphins

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