The office of the council of ministers of Cambodian on Wednesday rejected the report from CNN and WWF that Mekong dolphin in Cambodia is facing risk of extinction from pollution and devastating threat from proposed dams.
CNN broadcast worldwide last week about Mekong dolphin quoted the wrong report from WWF (World Wild Fund) on the risk of extinction of Cambodia's Mekong dolphin, said Touch Seang Tana, chairman of Cambodia's Commission for Conservation and Development of the Mekong River Dolphins Eco-tourism Zone.
"They are discrediting the Cambodian government and are looking down my institution," he told reporters in a press conference, adding that WWF want to gain more fund from donors for their project by reporting dolphin in brink of extinction.
He said "Up to now, we have about 150-160 Mekong dolphins in Cambodia in total but the WWF's report said it has 64-76 dolphins. Each year, we gained 10 baby dolphins and since 2003, the population has suffered 91 deaths not 88 like WWF's report."
"The WWF's report did not implement scientific research," he said.
Most dolphins died of fishing net from local fishermen and explosion devices for local people to catch fish. They did not die from pollution, DDT, pesticide or dams, he said.
Meanwhile, he said that Cambodia has fishery law, if people kill dolphin, they will be punished. Local people understand about benefit of dolphin and we have deployed our officials to conserve dolphins, Touch Seang Tana said, adding that local people have never eaten dolphin because the body of dolphin is like female human being.
CNN (report) is destroying the benefit of the poor who live near the tourism area of dolphin shelters in Kratie and Stung Treng provinces of Cambodia, he said. Moreover, its report would also impact the tourism sector of Cambodia and the job opportunity of local people.
"Each year, the dolphin tourism zone absorbed about 20,000 foreign tourists and about 100,000 local tourists," Touch Seang Tana said. "We will invite the experts from WWF to clarify with us. "
At the same time, he said that Cambodia needs electricity to fill the local demand. "But if we build hydropower plants, we will balance the development and conservation of the natural resources like dolphin," he added.
WWF Cambodia country director Seng Teak was not available for making comment and Tep Nasnarith, spokesman of WWF, also could not comment immediately.