Two endangered Indus River dolphins rescued, released in Indus River

November 17, 2017
Samaa Web Desk

Karachi, 16 November: A WWF-Pakistan and Sindh Wildlife Department joint team with support of local community safely rescued and released two stranded adult female Indus river dolphins today in the Indus River.

One of the dolphin was about 7.6 feet long and weighted 110 Kg and other one was 7.2 feet long and weighted around 102 Kg.

These dolphins were rescued from the Kirthar Canal near City Point Sukkur. These dolphins moved to Kirthar canal in September 2017 and were being monitored by the Sindh Wildlife Department and WWF-Pakistan since then to ensure their timely rescue in case if they get stranded in the shallow water bodies adjacent to canal.

The rescue team carefully translocated the rescued dolphins in a sound proof ambulance and released to release in the main Indus River near Sukkur Barrage upstream.

Rab Nawaz, Senior Director Programmes of WWF-Pakistan appreciated the Sindh Wildlife and community’s role in the successful rescue of the dolphin. According to him WWF-Pakistan believes in empowering community’s stewardship to conserve endangered and endemic species like the Indus river dolphin is a sustainable conservation approach.

He shed light on a few aspects of WWF-Pakistan’s long-term community engagement and awareness programme implemented as part of the Indus River Conservation Initiative in collaboration with Sindh Wildlife Department which has helped to enhance to conservation of this species and decreased fishing induced mortalities.

WWF-Pakistan has also set up a 24-hour phone helpline (071 561 5505) which has been instrumental in further strengthening the existing dolphin rescue programme.

Stranding in low waters is a constant threat which this endangered species faces. Stranding usually occur during the period of canal closures when flood gates are closed resulting in a drop in water level. Furthermore, intensive fishing in the core dolphin habitat is another threat which increases the probability of dolphins getting entangled in fishing nets, making it critical to continuously monitor the Indus River and adjacent canals.

The Indus dolphin rescue programme, therefore, has been an integral component of WWF-Pakistan’s conservation work for this species and is a continuous activity being carried out in collaboration with the Sindh Wildlife Department. WWF-Pakistan has also organizing capacity building workshops and training sessions for Sindh Wildlife Department officials on the safe rescue and release of stranded Indus river dolphins.

The Indus river dolphin (Platanista gangetica minor) is an endangered freshwater cetacean and is only found in the Indus River in Pakistan.

It is also a WWF priority species. The Indus river dolphin population is highly fragmented due to the construction of water regulatory barrages with the largest population concentrated between Guddu and Sukkur barrages, a legally protected area known as the Indus Dolphin Game Reserve.