PHNOM PENH, Oct. 24 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia has seen success in conserving the Mekong's critically endangered river dolphins, said a World Wildlife Fund (WWF)-Cambodia's statement on Thursday.
A last year's joint survey by the country's Fisheries Administration and WWF-Cambodia found that the number of Mekong River Irrawaddy dolphins in Cambodia had increased from 80 individuals in 2015 to 92 in 2017 and is expected to see a further increase this year, the statement said.
"The current population survey is underway, but conservationists are hopeful to see another upturn in numbers," it said. "That optimism is fed by the news that since the last survey, we have recorded 20 new-born calves while only nine deaths were recorded."
Seng Teak, country director of WWF-Cambodia, said the last year's dolphin survey results indicated the first-ever increase of the Mekong dolphins after a 20-year decline.
The major threat to Mekong dolphins is illegal fishing practices, particularly the use of gillnets in dolphin conservation areas, the statement said, adding that the current under construction and the new proposed hydropower dams on the Mekong mainstream are also of significant concern to the future survival of the species.
"We have seen a historical result in the conservation of the Mekong dolphins in Cambodia, based on our joint efforts and commitment" said Eng Cheasan, director general of the Fisheries Administration.
"We will continue our hard work to address the challenges and hope to celebrate another milestone," he added.
With only 92 Mekong dolphins in the Mekong River, the number is very low compared to the last century in which the population was estimated to be around 3,000 individuals living in Mekong and Tonle Sap Rivers in Cambodia, according to the statement.
To celebrate the success and to mark the Freshwater Dolphin Day, the Fisheries Administration, the Kratie Provincial Department of Tourism and WWF-Cambodia will organize an event between Oct. 25-27 in northeastern Kratie province to call for continued vigilance against threats to Mekong dolphins, it said.
In Cambodia, the dolphins live along a 190-km main channel of the Mekong River in northeastern Kratie and Stung Treng provinces.