June 21, 2009

Toxic waste kill Dolphins

Toxic waste in the Mekong River is a factor pushing an endangered dolphin species to extinction, the WWF warned on Thursday, estimating there were less than 80 left in a stretch of water between Cambodia and Laos.
Conservation group the World Wildlife for Nature (WWF) said high levels of mercury and other pollutants had caused the deaths of 88 Mekong River Irrawaddy dolphins since 2003, over 60 percent of them calves under two weeks old.
The WWF said limited genetic diversity due to inbreeding was another factor in the deaths of the Mekong dolphins, which were isolated from other members of the species.

However, one Cambodian specialist, Touch Seang Tana, who heads a group called Mekong River Dolphins Conservation, denied the animal was in danger of extinction and estimated there were 150 in Cambodia,1,000 lived in Asia, including in India, Myanmar and Thailand.

The Mekong River Irrawaddy dolphin is listed as a critically endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
The WWF researchers also warned that pollutants found in the Mekong water could affect the health of millions of humans who rely on resources from the river.

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