In the area of Cambodia and Laos, the Irrawaddy dolphin is shrinking in numbers. The dolphin is considered to be sacred by many living in there and at this time, there are found to be only 85 living in Southeast Asia’s, Mekong River. There is much concern that the dolphin will completely die out.
The number of dolphins isn’t many for a species and the offspring are suffering from a low survival rate. It the calves don’t start surviving, it could mean the species could become extinct. Very few of the newborns each year become adults. If younger ones don’t start surviving as the older ones are dieing, this is a sure sign of them going extinct.
The dolphins were counted by Li Lifeng, the director of WWF’s Freshwater Program and his team by a technique called,”photographic mark-recapture.” The is done by identifying the dolphins by special unique marks on their dorsal fins. This way of counting species has also been used on other animal groups.
There are also Irrawaddy dolphins living in the Irrawaddy River located in Myanmar, and the Mahakam River in Indonesia. These dolphins were not included in the count but all three groups are a concern for possible extinction.
Along with the loss of a sacred animal in the area, tourist come to the area to see both the dolphins and the whales. This would cause a decline in the tourism market.
There needs to be a combined effort of all, the fisheries, the communities and the Dolphin Commission to save this sacred animal from extinction. The WWF is committed to helping them out to make sure this species survives.