Phnom Penh, June 20: The Cambodian government has rejected as "a total lie" the report by an international conservation group that dolphins living in parts of the Mekong River between Cambodia and Laos are on the brink of extinction due to pollution.
The report by the World Wide Fund for Nature was aimed at attracting and convincing donors to inject more funds into the group, Chairman of Commission for Conservation and Development of the Mekong River Dolphin and eco-tourism Touch Seang Tana, told Kyodo News.
Inhabiting a 190-kilometer stretch of the river, the Irrawaddy dolphin population has suffered 88 deaths since 2003, of which 58 were calves under 2 weeks old, bringing the latest population to an estimated 64 to 76 members, the WWF said in its report.
WWF researchers found high toxic levels of pesticides such as DDT and environmental contaminants such as PCBs as well mercury after analysing 21 dead dolphins retrieved between 2004 and 2006, the group said.
According to Tana, the number of dolphins instead has increased to 160 from the 120 recorded in 2000.
"There are no such critical pollutants, otherwise, some 50,000 people living along the 200-km stretch of the river and who are using and drinking the water might have died before the dolphins," he said.