Irrawaddy Dolphin Observation Programme for foreign tourists launching along Ayeyawady River

In a collaboration between the Wild Conservation Society (WCS) and tourism entrepreneurs, preparations are underway for the launch of a programme to observe Irrawaddy dolphins in Mingun and Shwebo-Kyaukmyaung areas along the Ayeyawady River in Sagaing Region. The programme, set to commence in early February 2024, is designed for international travellers.
Jointly crafted by the WCS, the Hotel Entrepreneurs Association, and an individual with expertise in Ayeyawady River businesses, the initiative aims to provide a unique experience for tourists during the upcoming season. U Myint Sein, Head of the Sagaing Region Directorate of Hotels and Tourism, emphasized the positive impact of tourism development on job opportunities, individual incomes, and the generation of foreign currency for the country. He highlighted the potential for building mutual trust among diverse groups.
Irrawaddy dolphins, primarily found in the Ayeyawady River, have been inhabitants of Myanmar for over 2,000 years. Recognized officially by neighbouring countries along the Mekong River and India, these dolphins are a rare species. With only a few rivers worldwide housing dolphins, countries with such populations often create programmes, including exhibitions and observation trips, to showcase these unique creatures in their natural habitats.
Promoting the tourism sector as a smoke-free industry aligns with global trends. Myanmar, too, is actively promoting tour schedules that encompass sightseeing of natural environments, traditional cultures, ancient heritage, marine environments, wildlife sanctuaries, and biodiversity observation. The Irrawaddy dolphins in Myanmar, known for their short noses and friendly appearances, reproduce between the ages of seven and nine. Their pregnancy lasts fourteen months, and their average life expectancy is between 30 and 50 years.
The Fishery Department collaborates with relevant departments in the Ayeyawady River to safeguard Irrawaddy dolphins from harm and potential extinction. Electrofishing and net-fishing are strictly prohibited under the Freshwater Fishery Law. Additionally, local villagers in surrounding areas are educated and equipped with knowledge about Irrawaddy dolphins, encouraging their participation in nature-based tourism businesses while ensuring the preservation of this unique species. — Nyein Thu/ TMT

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