Posted on 17 February 2022
The death of the last known river dolphin in the transboundary pool on the Cambodia-Laos border found on February 15, 2022, most likely represents a national-level extinction for Laos.
On the death of the last known river dolphin in the transboundary pool on the Cambodia-Laos border, found on February 15, 2022. This death most likely represents a national-level extinction for Laos. The population was publicly declared functionally extinct in 2016 when only three dolphins were left. There are an estimated 89 river dolphins left in the Cambodia part of the Mekong river according to surveys conducted in 2020.
Lan Mercado, WWF Asia-Pacific Director:
“WWF is saddened by the death of the last known river dolphin in the transboundary pool in the Mekong between Cambodia and Laos. The numbers in the pool have plummeted over the last few years, due to multiple threats including hydro-power dam construction causing disruptions to river flow and reduced fish abundance, drowning in gill-nets, and the use of damaging fishing practices such as electrofishing and overfishing.
Successful collaboration and sustained conservation action with the government, fishers and communities in Cambodia has helped to reduce bycatch and strengthen habitats. The remaining population of ‘Critically Endangered’ river dolphins in the Cambodia section of the Mekong is now stable, whilst still facing serious challenges. This latest river dolphin death highlights how vulnerable these and other species remain. Documenting the lessons learnt from this tragic loss is critically important if we are to protect the endangered species in the region.
WWF remains committed to working with governments, local authorities from both Cambodia and Laos, and communities along the river to secure a sustainable future for these iconic river dolphins and other important species. With due attention, resources and sustained conservation effort, the recovery of these and other iconic species is still possible.”
The 25 year old male dolphin was found dead at the top of Koh La Ngo. 260cm in length and 110kg in weight. He is believed to have been dead for about three days.