Mekong River Dolphins and People: Shared River, Shared Future
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The iconic Irrawaddy dolphin was once plentiful in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam, but was decimated during the region’s turbulent recent past. Now threatened by fishing nets and proposed hydropower dams, the species is on the verge of extinction in the Mekong. With fewer than 100 dolphins remaining in the river, the Cambodian government has banned the use of gillnets to prevent the accidental catching of dolphins. Gillnet use is potentially destructive to both fish and dolphins. Restrictions on gillnet use however, can create hardships for the people who use gillnets to feed their family and make a living. To support these people, WWF has partnered with local government and development agencies to provide education and alternative livelihood opportunities in communities along the Mekong to mitigate these hardships and gain support to save the Mekong’s critically endangered dolphins.