Conservation of the Mekong Irrawaddy Dolphin along the Lao-Cambodia Border

Geographical location:

Asia/Pacific > Southeast Asia > Lao People's Democratic Republic


WWF and Mekong River Commission (MRC) are seeking to broaden the scope of dolphin conservation in the Siphandone area along the Lao-Cambodia border by resolving some key issues that have been identified to strengthen the conservation plan for the recovery of the Irrawaddy dolphin in the Mekong River.

This work will consist of an environmental education campaign to encourage Lao communities to actively participate in the conservation and recovery of the group of dolphins at the transboundary pool, and installing tourism infrastructure in Hang Sadam village to raise awareness about the Mekong dolphins and establish equitable sharing of the tourism revenue generated by the dolphins.


As the critically endangered Mekong population of Irrawaddy dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris) continue to see rapid decline in population size, WWF is seeking to increase its action to prevent the loss of this species from the Mekong River.

The group of dolphins along the Lao-Cambodia border are often viewed with newborn calves and juveniles and are thought to be a key dolphin group in the recovery of this species. Entanglement with fishing gear continues to be a problem.

The project will address how to encourage more action by the community to address this problem. The incentive for this will be to encourage revenue earned from tourism revenue to be directed to the community as compensation for removing their fishing nets from the dolphin pool (Hang Sadam village).

The project will work to develop promotional material, ecological information on dolphins and a dolphin viewing platform. It will also address the problem of sharing the benefits of dolphin watching. The main partner in this action will be the MRC Environment Programme, with additional collaboration with private tourism companies and the ADB tourism development project team. This will support WWF ongoing work to strengthen fisheries co-management in the area, as well as the work to monitor the population of dolphins in the Mekong River.

The assumption of this action is that communities are interested in protecting dolphins, and that dolphin watching will provide significant incentive for community action.


Establish new ecotourism options and environmental education materials for Hang Sadam village to encourage greater participation and responsibility for the conservation of the Mekong Irrawaddy dolphin at the transboundary pool.


1) Information materials will encourage community action to protect dolphins
2) Dolphin watching promotion will encourage tourists to visit Hang Sadam


A working group has been established by other WWF activities to define the rights, roles, and responsibilities for a Transboundary Management Committee to be established between Cambodia and Lao PDR to improve the institutional mechanism for stronger fisheries co-management and dolphin conservation in this area.