Irrawaddy dolphin protection area extended

Le Le Aung

The part of the Ayeyawady River between Htigyaing and Shweku towns has been designated as an extended section of the Irrawaddy dolphin protection area, according to the Fisheries Department.

The extended project started in 2016 and the extended areas were announced late last month.

In order to protect the endangered Irrawaddy dolphin species, Sagaing Region Fisheries Department established a protected area from the western bank of the Ayeyawady in Katha Township, Katha District, to eastern Maunggon Village and western Kyungyi Village in Htigyaing Township, Sagaing Region. That area has a ban on fishing with the use of a 300 feet long net, fishing through electric shocks, catching or killing Irrawaddy dolphins and releasing baby dolphins if they are caught in the fishing net. Those who fail to follow the instructions shall face legal action under the region's freshwater fishery law.

"To extend the protected area, the Fisheries Department and Wildlife Conservation Society started work in June 2016. During the period, surveys were conducted. We will collect surveys and give educative talks monthly in the protected area. To do so, we will open an office in Katha. Later, we will be able to release exact data about population, birth rate and death rate of those dolphins," said Han Win, in-charge of the Irrawaddy dolphin protection team from the Fisheries Department.

Irrawaddy dolphins usually roam in the river between Mandalay and Bhamo. The area between Mingun and Kyaukmyaung has been designated as a protected area since 2006.

Previously there were less than 20 dolphins. Despite some deaths, the number was increased to 26, so success has been achieved to a certain extent.

After the effort to extend the areas, surveys in February this year show there are about 37 Irrawaddy dolphins.