Enforcement support for the protection of critically endangered Mekong Dolphins
WWF also provided a 4-day training course for the enforcement units, covering patrol techniques, first aid skills, use of GPS for geo-referencing locations and navigation, understanding and applying legislations related to dolphin protection.
“Enforcement is a daily challenge and requires a variety of skills and tools,” said His Excellency Touch Seang Tana, Chairman of the Dolphin Commission. “We are very thankful to receive the equipment and training as it will greatly support our work that is mostly done in remote areas where we need to rely on ourselves, with no access to essential amenities such as electricity or fuel. Items such as the solar panels would greatly increase our capability in patrolling and enforcement at more remote areas now.”
80 river guards are working along the Mekong in Kratie and Steung Treng number, and are at the frontline implementing Cambodian laws that specifically protect the Mekong dolphins. While fishing is permitted in the area, enforcement against methods that bring harm to Irrawaddy dolphins is critical to save the creatures from extinction. Entanglement in gillnet is identified as a major threat to dolphin survival.
In August 2012, the Royal Government of Cambodia issued a sub-decree that banned gillnet fishing in the dolphin habitat. To be effective, the sub-decree and other relevant regulations related to fisheries must be reinforced and patrolling must be carried out.
“The Dolphin Commission recognises that enforcement is a cornerstone of conservation of the Mekong dolphin,” His Excellency Touch Seang Tana said. “All river guard personnel must effectively utilise equipment and skill obtained from this training in their duty of protecting the dolphin. River guards must also maintain high moral attitudes and be committed to their job.”
According to Mr Thibault Ledecq, Conservation Programme Manager with WWF-Cambodia, the training and equipment will no doubt fortify the pillars that support the river guards’ strong enforcement presence. “WWF values this collaborative partnership, and looks forward to continue working together in support of the sustainable development and conservation of the Mekong river biodiversity,” he said.