Conservationists fear for Mekong dolphin

A sharp drop in the number of Mekong dolphins born in Cambodia has renewed fears for the survival of the rare mammals, Reuters reported wildlife experts as saying on Wednesday.

Net fishing was banned in the eastern Cambodian provinces of Kratie and Steung Treng in 2006. After the ban, the report said, conservationists had hoped for a surge in newborn dolphins.

But only three baby dolphins, one of them dead, were found during an annual survey conducted late last year. The number was down from six newborns found the previous year. There are about 150 dolphins living in the upper Mekong River.

"Global warming may be a possible indirect threat to the dolphin population, particularly if their fitness is reduced," Teak Seng, of
the WWF, was quoted as saying.

"Dolphins are very sensitive to changes in their environment such as water temperature and quality. Other factors may be more influential
such as diseases and water pollution."

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