Cambodia battles to save rare Mekong dolphins
KRATIE, Cambodia (AFP) - The sight of two dolphins twisting playfully in the murky waters of the Mekong river elicits barely-stifled squeals of delight from a boatload of eco-tourists.
But a short distance upstream, river guard Pech Sokhan sighs as he holds up two large, tangled gill nets recently pulled from the murky water - evidence old habits die hard despite a ban on the practice that ensnares many dolphins.
"We have to keep educating people every day," said Mr Pech, one of 77 unarmed guards who patrol the Cambodian stretch of the Mekong river on the lookout for activities that could harm the dolphins.
Entanglement in gill nets - vertical mesh nets left in the water for long periods - is the main cause of death in adult Mekong dolphins, according to experts, who believe the grey mammals with distinctive blunt beaks are in imminent danger of extinction in the river.