The National Marine Committee has accepted a proposal to list Irrawaddy dolphins as a reserved species, after a recent survey indicated that only fourteen could still be found in their natural habitat in Songkhla province.
Dr Thon Thamrongnawasawat, deputy dean of the Faculty of Fisheries at Kasetsart University, wrote on his Facebook page that as a reserved species, Irrawaddy dolphins will receive the highest level of protection for animals in Thailand. He added that inclusion on the list would allow the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources and other related agencies to step up conservation efforts in order to try to prevent their extinction.
Marine officials and scientists will also implement short-term measures, such as regular patrols and raising public awareness about the threats to these dolphins. A center will meanwhile be established to look after the animals and increase their food supply to help ensure their survival. Additionally, a study will be conducted to better understand their reproductive systems and behavior, as well as restore their habitat in Songkhla Lake.
Irrawaddy dolphins are listed as critically endangered throughout Asia by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). There are currently only five countries in the world where these freshwater dolphins can be found, namely India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Thailand.
If Thailand is unable to save these remaining 14 dolphins, the kingdom may become the first of these five locations where the species goes extinct.