NAYPYIDAW:A rare Irrawaddy dolphin was found dead in Mandalay recently, and advocates for the survival of the species are divided on how it died.
The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), a non-governmental organisation, said the male dolphin may have died of natural causes according to The Irrawaddy.
However,the Sein Yaung So Environmental Group, another non-governmental organisation together with the fishing community in Mandalay, believe the dolphin was killed by electro-fishing, a method where electricity is used to catch fish.
The 220cm long dolphin was the biggest ever recorded.
‘Its teeth showed it was quite old and, to confirm it, we examined its stomach and found it was empty.
‘We do not know how long it had been since it had its last meal So, we concluded it died of old age,’ U Hkyaw Hla Thein of the WCS said.
The environmental group leader, U Maung Maung Oo, however, said it could have been a collateral death from electro-fishing.
‘Fish are abundant where the dolphin was found dead, which attracts electrofishers. And there are also fishing lakes in the area.’
Fisherman U Maung Lay of the Sin Kyun village also believed that the dolphin died of electro-fishing and said that authorities need to take stronger action against illegal fishing activities.
The deaths of Irrawaddy dolphins are mainly attributed to elecro-fishing, mines, poison and restricted fishing nets.
The Ayeyarwady River along with the Irrawaddy dolphin were included in the Unesco World Heritage tentative list in 2014.
As part of conservation efforts, the authorities and civil society organisations educated residents about the heavy toll caused by electro-fishing.
Violators can be jailed up to three years for fishing using electricity, mines, poison and restricted fishing nets, but according to the WCS, they normally only serve a fraction of the term for their offence.