Community-based ecotourism in the Ayeyawady Dolphin Protected Area offers a unique opportunity not just to see the famous animals, but also to experience and learn about “cooperative fishing”: the relationship between traditional fishermen and the endangered Ayeyawady Dolphin that has been practiced for centuries and is found only here. This program is designed to support fishermen from six communities in the protected area and give them positive incentives to reduce threats to dolphins and continue the traditions of cooperative fishing.
Fishermen will demonstrate and teach you about how they communicate and fish in a mutually beneficial way with the dolphins, and share their indigenous knowledge about dolphin behaviour and the Ayeyawady River ecosystem.
Visitors travel by boat starting from the Mandalay Jetty to visit cooperative fishing villages located a few hours north, inside the protected area. Village scouts help to search for dolphins along the way, as well as identify birds and other natural attractions of the river. In the villages you will learn about traditional cast net fishing and other local livelihood practices such as peanut farming, pottery, weaving, and local cigar rolling. Your village hosts will tell you stories and folktales and will give you a tour of their village so that you can better understand and enjoy their culture, religion and way of life. Home cooked meals prepared by the communities provide an authentic taste of rural Burmese cuisine.
More information about the initiative is available on the WCS website.