In spite of concerns over dynamite fishing and the construction of a major hydropower dam, a year-end tally found 10 calves among Cambodia’s endangered Irawaddy dolphins in the Mekong River, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) reported.
While the number declined from 12 last year, any reproduction was a good sign, given the species’ slow birth rate, said Socheat So, a fisheries expert who works with the WWF’s Kratie outpost.
“The dolphins have a calf only every two years—gestation is 14 months for them,” he said.
The tally comes as the WWF finishes processing data from its annual survey of dolphins in the Mekong.
The number of adult dolphins counted this year was 80, the same as last year, Mr. So said.
Calves are harder to tally precisely, as their fin markings cannot be differentiated when they are immature.
River guards—some 68 local villagers responsible for guarding the 180 km stretch of water between Kratie’s Kampi rapids and Stung Treng’s border with Laos—had received better support this year from the WWF and affiliated organizations, he said.
“The local community is meeting and joining in with the protection, too.”