The land of heroes
Our heroes
Our land
Cambodia Kingdom

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Rare Mekong dolphin making a comeback

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (Reuters) -- Cambodia's rare Mekong dolphin is making a tentative comeback from the edge of extinction after net fishing was banned in its main habitat, Cambodian and World Wildlife Fund officials said on Wednesday.

There are now about 160 dolphins, up from only 90 before net fishing was banned last year in the upper Mekong River in the eastern provinces of Kratie and Steung Treng borders, they said.

The absence of gillnets strung in the river, allowing dolphins from other reaches of the river to move in, was the main reason for the sudden jump in numbers, the officials said.

"We should have about 20 new babies born every year if the current trend continues," Touch Seang Tana, chairman of Commission for Mekong Dolphins Conservation, told Reuters.

"Within five years, we'll be worried we will not have enough fish for dolphins to eat because humans also need fish," he said.

Fishing was banned in the area last year and local people encouraged to grow crops or work in the growing tourism industry instead of fishing.

"The awareness, conservation and provision of alternative livelihoods to fishermen, have helped reduced adult mortalities," the WWF said in a statement.

Conservationists believe an estimated 1,000 dolphins, also known as Irrawady dolphins, live in India, Myanmar and Thailand.

Read more!

Talks to save Khmer Rouge trials

Cambodian and international judges have begun talks to prevent the possible collapse of the Khmer Rouge trials.

The trials - which aim to put the surviving leaders of the brutal Maoist regime in the dock - have ground to a halt over procedural differences.

Foreign judges want full international legal standards, while the Cambodians say local law must take precedence.

About two million people died during the years that the Khmer Rouge ruled Cambodia in the 1970s.

Aging defendants

Trail hearings are theoretically due to start later this year.

But according to the BBC correspondent in Phnom Penh, Guy De Launey, there is a real possibility that the trials will collapse before they have even started.

The international judges have made it clear that they see this week's meeting as the final chance to make sure the trials meet international standards.

"All the judges are mindful that the upcoming... meeting is of vital importance," tribunal officials said in a recent statement.

If an agreement cannot be achieved, the foreign contingent will ask the UN to pull out.

But local officials have been equally adamant that Cambodian law has to have prime importance in the special courts, and according to our correspondent, they feel they have been unfairly portrayed as being the sole cause of the delays.

There are more than 100 items under discussion at this week's talks, but many have already been resolved after lengthy informal negotiations.

Those involved admit that time is of the essence, if they are to bring elderly Khmer Rouge members to court.

"There is one point on which the international judges are unanimous - these trials should take place quickly or not at all," French judge Marcel Lemonde of France told AFP news agency.

The death of military commander Ta Mok late last year heightened fears that more key defendants and witnesses could die before facing justice.

Pol Pot, the founder and leader of the Khmer Rouge, has already died, in a camp along the border with Thailand in 1998.

Read more!

ADB approves 42 mln USD of loan to restore railway for Cambodia

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved 42 million U.S. dollars of loan for Cambodia to restore its railway, local media said on Wednesday.

This is part of the efforts to complete the ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) railway network which also connects China, said daily newspaper the Rasmey Kampuchea.

The agreement of providing the loan was signed by Minister of Finance and Economy Keat Chhon and C. Lawrence Greenwood, vice- president of ADB here on Monday.

The loan will be spent on restoring 254 km of railway road from Phnom Penh to seaport city Sihanoukville and also on 383 km of railway from Phnom Penh to Poipet town of Banteay Mean

Chey province next to the border with Thailand, the paper quoted Keat Chhon as saying.

The whole budget for restoring railway is worth about 73 million U.S. dollars, with 42 million from ADB, 13 million from the OPEC (the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) Fund, 2.8 million as grant aid from Malaysia and the rest 15.2 million from the Cambodian government, he added.

Source: Xinhua .

Read more!