The World Wildlife Fund, WWF has called for an urgent action to protect the critically endangered Irrawaddy Dolphin population in the Mekong River. In a statement sent to China's Xinhua news agency on Wednesday, the WWF said that the calf survival was found to be very low and at a high risk of extinction.
Irrawaddy dolphins (Orcaella Brevirostris) inhabit a 190 kilometre stretch of the mainstream Mekong River between Kratie in Cambodia and the Khone Falls, on the border withLaos.
The Director of WWF's Freshwater Programme, Dr. Li Lifeng said that surveys conducted from 2007 to 2010 show the population is slowly declining. Dr. Li said that the evidence is strong that very few young animals survive to adulthood, as older dolphins die off and are not replaced. He also explained that the dolphins die due to pressures of gillnet entanglement. Gilnetting is a common fishing method used by commercial and artisanal fishermen of all the oceans and in some freshwater and estuary areas. Currently, there are 85Irrawaddy dolphins left in Southeast Asia's Mekong River.
Dr. Li said that although the population estimate is slightly higher than the previous estimate but the researchers were quick to note that the population had not increased over the last few years. He also said that the research is based on the photographic identification of dolphins through individually unique features of their dorsal fins. He said that most of the dolphins can be identified, and they use the information to estimate the population size.