Irrawaddy dolphin numbers critical

BANGKOK – Thailand has asked an international wildlife protection agency to list the Irrawaddy dolphin as a critical species in danger of extinction.

The proposal is one of about 50 received by the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in endangered Species for Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) from governments around the world.

It plans to review all of the proposals ahead of its “Conference of the Parties”, slated for October 2‚Äì14 in Bangkok.

The Department of Marine and Coastal Resources requested adjusting the protection level for the Irrawaddy dolphin.

Kongkieat Kittiwattawong, a marine scientist at the department, said numbers of the dolphin, which lives in oceans and rivers in the IndoPacific region, were decreasing.

Kongkieat said there were less than 10 wild Irrawaddy dolphins left in Thailand in the Songkhla lake region in the far South.

The Irrawaddy dolphin is listed as a Cite’s “appendix II” species, which includes plants and animals that may become extinct unless trade is controlled. The export of appendix II list species is permissible if authorised by the secre¬¨tariat of Cites.

Kongkieat said the department asked Cites to upgrade the species to an “appendix I” species, in which trade is banned because the species have reached critical population levels.

Kongkieat hopes adjusting the level of protection will help increase numbers of the rare dolphins.

The Thai government also asked Cites to downgrade the Blue Vanda orchid from its appendix I list to appendix II to allow the plant species to be traded.

The secretariat of Cites also received a proposal from Namibia, which requested an annual export quota of two tonnes of ivory.

Japan, meanwhile, has recommend¬ed moving the minke whale from appen¬dix I to appendix II, while Zambia has asked for an annual export quota of 548 Nile
crocodiles, which are also listed on appendix II.

Cities said in a press release yesterday it would review and analyse all propos¬als and publish preliminary technical and scientific assessments and preliminary recommendations in early June, ahead of the meeting in Bangkok.

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