Dead Irrawaddy Dolphin Found in Mandalay Region

By Zarni Mann 23 June 2017

MANDALAY — Local fishermen found the dead body of an Irrawaddy dolphin near Madaya Township’s Thone Sae Pay village in Mandalay Region on Wednesday, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).

“After studying the body, we found it was a 30-year-old male with no injuries, so we took the cause of death to be old age,” said deputy project manager of WCS U Kyaw Hla Thein, adding that the dolphin probably died a few days before it was discovered.

Local environmental activists, however, blamed the death on electric-shock fishing, a major threat to the endangered species.

“Although there is prohibition of electric-shock fishing, some fishermen are still using the method as the supply of fish is declining in the Irrawaddy River,” said U Maung Maung Oo, a member of the Natural Green Society, which is researching Irrawaddy dolphins.

Electric-shock fishing, especially in the Irrawaddy River’s protection zone, is prohibited by the Freshwater Fisheries Law, enacted by the Department of Fisheries, and violators face three years in prison or a 300,000 kyats fine.

“To effectively protect this endangered species, the local government should restrict fishing in the Irrawaddy River and stop gold miners polluting the river upstream,” said U Maung Maung Oo.

According to WCS, in 2012 there were 86 dolphins. By 2014, however, the population was just 63. In 2015, 58 were counted in the protection zone, which spans from Mandalay to Bhamo.

The population of dolphins was counted as 65 in 2016, despite three dolphins, including a pregnant female, being found dead that year.

A WCS survey in February this year found 69 dolphins in the protection zone. At the end of April, a male dolphin was found dead with injuries on his fins believe to be caused by a boat’s propeller.