“When I was born, my grandparents told me, ‘The dolphins are special. If you see them, you will get good luck. If you capsize your boat, the dolphins will save you. You can trust them.’”
The young man in his 20s is standing on the bank of the Mekong River in a section that a small pod of the critically-endangered Irrawaddy dolphin calls home – a home which is about to sit next to perhaps the most divisive hydropower dam project in the region.
He is a local guide in the Four Thousand Islands, a major tourism hotspot in a land still largely reliant on subsistence farming and age-old fishing practices. He recounts a long tale of how dolphins first came here, how they are considered special and why locals fear the shy residents could depart forever.