Baby dolphins die in Cambodia’s River

Two more Irrawaddy dolphins have died in Cambodia 's stretch of the Mekong River , raising concerns about the survival of the species, officials said Wednesday. The two calves, aged between four weeks and two months, were discovered floating in the river on Monday, said Lor Bun San of the Cambodian Mekong Dolphin Conservation Project.

The cause of their deaths was not immediately known, but officials have said that environmental pollution and illegal fishing nets were probably behind the recent deaths of at least eight other Irrawaddy dolphins in Cambodia 's portion of the Mekong . The World Wildlife Fund has called the deaths a "serious situation" that threatens the future of the animals.

It was estimated earlier this month that only 80 to 100 Irrawaddy dolphins are left in the Mekong River, which runs through China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. The WWF said the remaining dolphins are restricted to a 190-kilometer (120-mile) stretch of the river between the Cambodia-Laos border and the Cambodian town of Kratie , upstream from the capital, Phnom Penh .

Sam Kim Lorn, chief fisheries officer in Kratie province, said the dolphin death toll this year has already surpassed the total of eight in 2005. He said illegal fishing nets were the cause of most dolphin deaths and that authorities were conducting day-and-night patrols of the river to crack down on the problem.

River pollution and disease could also have been factors in the recent deaths, he said. The WWF has no estimates of how many Irrawaddy dolphins are left in the world. The animals are also found in waters around the Philippines , Thailand , Myanmar , Indonesia and Australia , reports the AP.

N.U.