A recent survey has found a slight decline in the population of Irrawaddy dolphins living in protected areas in the Ayeyawady River, between Mandalay and Bhamo Township in Kachin State, compared with a count conducted in 2018.
U Kyaw Hla Thein from the Wildlife Conservation Society (Myanmar Programme), said the current survey was conducted by the Department of Fisheries in collaboration with the WCS (Myanmar) between 6 and 16 February. The survey found 24 dolphins in the area between Mandalay and Kyaukmyaung, 34 in the new protected area between Malae and Shweku townships, and 14 in Bhamo Township, putting the total count at 72. The population of Irrawaddy dolphins has decreased by four compared with 2018. The death toll of the rare dolphin species increased in 2018, when six dolphins were found dead in the protected area. In early 2019, Myanmar lost another Irrawaddy dolphin. The 2018 survey found 26 dolphins between Mandalay and Kyaukmyaung, 37 in Malae and Shweku area, and 13 in Bhamo, putting the total count at 76. Electrofishing on the Ayeyawady River is the most common cause for the death of dolphins, said U Han Win, an in-charge of Irrawaddy dolphin conservation under the Department of Fisheries.
A population survey of Irrawaddy dolphins is conducted every February. The survey team usually conducts campaigns to raise awareness during the course of its trip. The 2019 survey was performed by officials from the fisheries departments in Mandalay, and Sagaing regions as well as Kachin State, members of Katha Township Fisheries Federation, fishermen, and staff of the WCS (Myanmar).
—Nyi Tu (Translated by Khaing Thanda Lwin)