Irrawaddy Dolphins

The freshwater Irrawaddy dolphin (trey pisaut), is an endangered species throughout Asia, with shrinking numbers inhabiting stretches of the Mekong in Cambodia, Laos, and other found in isolated pockets in Bangladesh and Myanmar. Before the civil war, locals say, Cambodia was home to as many as 1000 dolphins and their habitat included the Tonle Sap lake. However, during the Pol Pot regime, many were hanted for their oil and their numbers have plimmeted. Dynamite fishing, whereby lazy locals chuck a grenade in the river because they can’t be bothered to wait around for a catch, hasn’t exactly helped the dolphins’ plight either. Locals and experts alike believe there may be as many as 60 Irrawaddy dolphins left on stretches of the Mekong River north of Kratie. It is possible to see them at a place called Kampi, about 15km north of Kratie, on the road to Stung Tren. There are local motorboats available to shuttle visitor out to the middle of the river to view the dolphins at close quaters. The boat operators try to claim the price has been fixed at US$5 per person, but this is expensive compared with boat hire elsewhere in Cambodia. Try to encourage the boat driver to use the engine as little as possible once near the dolphins as the noise is sure to disturb them. The local also say the best time of year to see the dolphins is at the height of wet season; however, with the assistance of an able boat driver, it is just as easy to spot 10 or more in the dry season. There is no particular time of day that’s best suited the spotting, althogh early morning and late afternoon draw the most visitors.

Leave a reply