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WWF-Pakistan and SWD successfully rescue stranded Indus River Dolphin calf

Posted on 19 April 2016

Sukkur, A joint team of WWF-Pakistan and Sindh Wildlife Department along with the local fishermen community successfully rescued a stranded Indus River Dolphin calf today at Naulakhi Minor Irrigation Canal, NausheroFeroze district. Earlier in the day the WWF-Pakistan team received a call on the recently set up 24-hour helpline service reporting a stranded dolphin calf. A trained rescue team was dispatched and the dolphin calf was carefully captured, transported in a sound proof vehicle (and constantly kept moist) until its release in the Indus River at Sukkur Barrage upstream. The female calf was about 76 centimetres in length and weighed around 6 kilograms.

Getting stranded in low waters is a constant threat that this endangered species faces, which usually occurs 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 yet another threat which increases the probability of the dolphins getting entangled in fishing nets, making it critical to continuously monitor the Indus River and adjacent canals.

WWF-Pakistan has initiated numerous programmes to support and protect the population of these dolphins in collaboration with partners and has rescued more than 100 dolphins since 1992. Community awareness and education has also helped substantially decrease stranding-induced dolphin mortalities in recent years. According to Rab Nawaz, Senior Director Biodiversity, WWF-Pakistan, “As part of its existing Indus River Dolphin Conservation initiative, undertaken with the financial support of Sona Welfare Foundation, WWF-Pakistan has established a dolphin monitoring network of representatives of relevant departments and local communities to monitoring the Indus River and adjacent canals and tributaries. The team thus far has conducted about 80 monitoring and awareness raising surveys of the Indus River, adjacent canals and villages this year. WWF-Pakistan recently set up the 24-hour phone helpline, 071 561 5505, due to which we were able to save the stranded river dolphin calf.”

The Indus River dolphin (Platanistagangetica minor), an endangered freshwater cetacean, is a WWF priority species. Pakistan is home to approximately 1,452 Indus river dolphins, distributed between Chashma and Kotri barrages. 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.


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