Free Newsletters - Space News - Defense Alert - Environment Report - Energy Monitor
. 24/7 Space News .




WATER WORLD
Cambodia battles to save rare Mekong dolphins
by Staff Writers
Kratie, Cambodia (AFP) Jan 05, 2013


The sight of two dolphins twisting playfully in the murky waters of the Mekong river elicits barely-stifled squeals of delight from a boatload of eco-tourists.

But a short distance upstream, river guard Pech Sokhan sighs as he holds up two large, tangled gill nets recently pulled from the river -- evidence old habits die hard despite a ban on the practice that ensnares many dolphins.

"We have to keep educating people every day," said Pech, one of 77 unarmed guards who patrol the Cambodian stretch of the Mekong river on the lookout for activities that could harm the dolphins.

Entanglement in gill nets -- vertical mesh nets left in the water for long periods -- is the main cause of death in adult Mekong dolphins, according to experts, who believe the grey mammals with distinctive blunt beaks are in imminent danger of extinction.

Estimates for the number of remaining adult Mekong river freshwater Irrawaddy dolphins range from 85 up to 180.

Although there are no comprehensive studies, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature classes the species as critically endangered.

The dwindling population faces numerous challenges including unexplained high rates of calf mortality, as well as disease, inbreeding and habitat loss.

But "gill nets are the biggest of these threats," said WWF conservationist Gordon Congdon.

Freshwater Irrawaddy dolphins exist in only three river systems in Southeast Asia, with Cambodia hosting the largest population.

Community-based eco-tourism initiatives that allow poor villagers to generate revenue from the "smiling face of the Mekong", mostly through boat tours and souvenir sales, are central to protection efforts.

And business is good. The region welcomed some 30,000 dolphin tourists this year, up from around 20,000 in 2011 and just 50 in 2000, said Touch Seang Tana, who heads a government commission to protect the species.

Kampi dolphin pool in eastern Cambodia's Kratie province, where tourists can get up close with small groups of the mammals, is one of the success stories of government efforts to save the critically endangered creatures.

But not all locals can get in on the act, and despite plans to open two more dolphin viewing sites, many find that cheap and efficient gill nets remain the best way to put food on the table.

"It is unending until the poverty is gone," Touch said about the battle against the dreaded nets, which ensnare dolphins as easily as they trap fish.

"People already know that gill nets kill dolphins. But they are thinking about their own stomachs."

In what WWF hailed as "a huge step forward", the government in August approved a dolphin protection zone in a 180-kilometre-long (110 miles) river stretch from Kratie to the border with Laos.

While fishing with small scoop nets, cast nets or hooks is still allowed in the safe zone, dolphin-unfriendly fishing methods such as gill nets and fish cages are banned.

Offenders are not arrested or fined, but their destructive fishing gear is confiscated -- a heavy loss for poor families.

But despite these efforts, river guards confiscated some 8,000 metres (26,200 feet) of gill nets over just a few days in early December, Touch said, evidence the practice is still common.

Worse still, since the ban came into effect at least two adult dolphins have been found dead, ensnared in netting, he added.

The race is now on to educate the dozens of villages dotted along the Mekong about the new rules and offer incentives for traditional fishing communities to diversify their income and reduce reliance on fishing.

But the efforts have yet to reach fisherman Eam Mao, 55, who lives a few kilometres north of the popular Kampi dolphin pools and earns just over $2 a day from his catch.

"It's much more difficult for us to make a living than for those who live nearer the dolphins," he told AFP as he sat outside his modest home repairing a small cast net.

Still, river guard Pech is optimistic that the new rules can make a difference.

"Now when we confiscate the gill nets people dare not object because they know it's illegal. Before, they would chase us with knives," he recalled, laughing.

.


Related Links
Water News - Science, Technology and Politics






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





WATER WORLD
US town bans bottled water
New York (AFP) Jan 2, 2013
Water, water everywhere - just not in plastic bottles, says a town in the US state of Massachusetts. A law passed by the town of Concord went into effect with the New Year, making single-serving bottles of water illegal. The ban is intended to encourage use of tap water and curb the worldwide problem of plastic pollution. It only applies to "non-sparkling, unflavored drinking water. ... read more


WATER WORLD
Mission would drag asteroid to the moon

Russia designs manned lunar spacecraft

GRAIL Lunar Impact Site Named for Astronaut Sally Ride

NASA probes crash into the moon

WATER WORLD
Ancient Water-rich Meteorite Linked to Martian Crust

Stanford researchers develop acrobatic space rovers to explore moons and asteroids

Researchers Identify Water Rich Meteorite Linked To Mars Crust

Mars meteorite has significant water

WATER WORLD
2012 in Polish space activities

Captain's log: real space chat for Star Trek crew

Congress Approves Bill Supporting Human Space Exploration

China's Chengdu aiming to be world's next Silicon Valley

WATER WORLD
Mr Xi in Space

China plans manned space launch in 2013: state media

China to launch manned spacecraft

Tiangong 1 Parked And Waiting As Shenzhou 10 Mission Prep Continues

WATER WORLD
Station Crew Ringing in New Year

Expedition 34 Ready to Ring in New Year

New ISS crew docked at Space Station

Expedition 34 Spends Christmas in Space

WATER WORLD
CSF Applauds Passage Of Risk-Sharing Regime Extension For Launch Industry

Rokot Launch Set for January 15

Russian rocket launch rescheduled

Investigation into Proton Launch Anomaly Continues as Root Cause is being Evaluated

WATER WORLD
Billions and Billions of Planets

ALMA Shows How Young Star and Planets Grow Simultaneously

ALMA Sheds Light on Planet-Forming Gas Streams

A stray planet

WATER WORLD
Liquid jets and bouncing balls combine for surprising results

How computers push on the molecules they simulate

Shortage of helium has business impact

Corning to debut tougher Gorilla Glass




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement