Life as a Dolphin Conservation Researcher

Written By: Nuth Pisethrachana, YEA: Mekong Generation 2
Publication Date: 01 March 2021
Translated and Authorized By: Young Eco Ambassador

Just an ordinary citizen who loves research and conservation of natural resources.

Have you ever wondered about the livelihood of people along the riverbank? Besides fishing, what they can do for their daily lives? Sometimes, they can be a superhero.   

Who are they?
Mostly, it can be seen in the movie that there are various explorers/researchers, especially in science, which we see as very cool. Not only in other countries, but also in Cambodia, that there are many researchers, who work on many things, especially regarding the animals such as aquatic animals, terrestrial, and birds. Studying these animals is not easy, as they swim up and down, especially there are changes that require us to keep a close eye on them!

Do you know why do we call these researchers as the superhero? It is because they spend so much time both in the office and at the animal’s habitation to study clearly about them; it’s like when we have a crush on someone and follow them all the time. Without researchers, we will have a hard time understanding the way Cambodian wildlife live, and it’s harder to protect them because we don’t know exactly what they really need. 

Pictured by YEA Media

Have you ever visited Kratie and Steung Treng provinces? People say that these two provinces are the heart of Mekong river.
The Mekong river flow through 5 provinces – Kompung Cham, Kratie, Steung Trengm Kandal, and Prey Veng province. This excludes tributaries. Among these provinces, Kratie has the most natural resources; some of them are found only in Cambodia such as Irrawaddy Dolphin, deer, river predator, giant white-tailed deer, etc. How awesome! Moreover, it is also the habitation to the broodfishes and a home to many beautiful islands. Almost everything is found there.  

The research team in Kratie province is working on the Mekong Flooded Forest Landscape (MFF Landscape). Especially, Irrawaddy Irrawaddy Dolphin research activities is processed in the Irrawaddy Irrawaddy Dolphin protected area, from the center of Kratie province to Cambodia-Laos border in Steung Treng province.

Pictured by WWF Cambodia

It is amazing how they take care of the Irrawaddy Dolphin

Sometimes, we can see that they spend their times taking care of the Irrawaddy Dolphin more than their own child because every day they spend hours on boating just to look after the Irrawaddy Dolphin. Even me (the article writer) who want to meet them, they barely have time for me. I am not complaining about them. I just want to express that they spend most of their times at the animal’s habitation to collect further data and information, they hardly have times for other things.

Is their hard work for many years paid off?

Absolutely! Under their efforts, the number of dolphins increased in 2017. Up until 2020, even though there’s no remarkable result, but at least the number is stable. Everybody is happy with that result because they really have done a great job. That they could maintain and even increase the number of those endangered species are indescribable. Even international conservationists are amazed with their work!

Pictured by YEA Media

How can they continue despite these hardships?!
It’s not an easy job; they travel by boat for kilometers to finding the data and identification of the Irrawaddy Dolphin. After seeing the dolphin, they spend hours in the middle of the river under the sunlight to wait to capture the fin image of the Irrawaddy Dolphin to make the identity for them. It is quite similar to doing the population survey, but the difference is the dolphins do not speak our language and do not understand our purpose, so they just run away from us because they feel insecure. Moreover, the truth of the Irrawaddy Dolphin is when they are dead, they really stink. However, the research team has to take the sample to identify the cause of death. It is a part of their job.  

These are just case studies of Irrawaddy Dolphin; what about other cases such as birds and wild animals. They have to spend weeks in the thick forest facing many challenges – the rain and the wind. It is hard to imagine what they went through.

Pictured by YEA Media

What is their motivation?

Undeniably, it hard to keep them feel motivated. However, they often claim that after spending their time with these innocent animals, they start to love them and want to protect them. “What inspires me to continue my job is that I want to see the existence of the biodiversity and want them to last forever and get rid of the challenges caused by the human being,” said Mr Lor Kimsan, WWF researcher.

Pictured by YEA Media

If we feel grateful for the research team, we should help them.
No matter where we are, we can all help them. We can help researchers by sharing this knowledge among our community, to raise more awareness of the threaten of biodiversity and the hardship that they went through. By doing so can help in some way and also make more people participate in loving and caring for our rare natural resource. We do not have much to brag about to the other countries, only the scope of our natural biodiversity and our caring spirit!

Pictured by YEA Media

“Life as a Dolphin Conservation Researcher” is one of the three blog articles written by Nuth Pisethrachana, YEA: Mekong Generation 2.
*Youth Program: Mekong Generation2 has been trained by Wapatoa and YEA team.

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