965 Indus dolphins counted in latest survey | WWF

965 Indus dolphins counted in latest survey

Posted on
15 May 2001

Lahore, Pakistan - A joint team of biologists from WWF-Pakistan and the government of Pakistan recently completed a seven-week, 1,370 km (850 mile) expedition survey that covered the entire habitat range of the Indus Dolphin, a functionally-blind animal and the most endangered of the freshwater dolphins.

Braving harsh environmental conditions that ranged from gale force winds to searing 45 degrees C (113 degrees F) heat, the census crew sighted at leat 965 individual dolphins. As a result of these findings, they concluded that at least 1,000 of these unique mammals are left in the lower reaches of the Indus River.

The team, led by WWF's cetacean specialist, Gill Braulik, and partially sponsored by WWF-Sweden, travelled by boat down the length of the Indus River from the town of Kalabagh in northwestern Punjab Province to the city of Hyderabad in the Province of Sindh. They used state-of-the-art global positioning system (GPS) equipment and satellite images of the river system to pinpoint and record where, when and how many of the dolphins were seen. The data collected will enable conservationists to carefully plan and implement a strategy to secure the future of the dolphins.

While four different countries share populations of the Ganges River Dolphin, the Indus River Dolphin is found only in Pakistan. It has recently been described by a leading scientist as a "living fossil" and is one of the most precious components of the biodiversity or spectrum of life in South Asia.

Pakistan's federal government has ratified the international Convention on Biodiversity and has, therefore, entered into a treaty with the world community of nations to protect species of special concern like the Indus Dolphin.

Pakistan's Indus River Dolphin is one of only five species that have, over a period of millions of years, adapted to living in fresh water. The Indus and Ganges river dolphins of South Asia are the most unique of these species as they are functionally blind. They use high frequency sound to navigate, socialise and locate their prey in much the same way as a modern submarine uses SONAR.

For further information contact:
Rauf Hameed, Communications Manager,
World Wide Fund for Nature - Pakistan
Tel: 042 - 5862360/5869429. Fax: 042-5862358
email: raufhameed@yahoo.com or arauf@wwf.org.pk

Available for interview on this subject:
Richard Garstang,
Conservation Advisor.
Tel: 042-5882069, 5862360, 5869429, Fax: 042-5862358
e-mail: rgarstang@wwf.org.pk

More Information

(WWF is not responsible for outside content)

Whale & Dolphin Conservation Society - Indus Dolphin

Whale & Dolphin Conservation Society - Home Page

Convention on Biological Diversity web site

Kid's Dolphin Quiz

Information on other river dolphins: Amazon, Franciscana, and Yangtze dolphins. (courtesy of Cetacea)

Pakistan drought threatens rare dolphin, BBC Online, Monday, 14 May, 2001

Emergency rescue operation for the blind Indus River Dolphin in Pakistan, Eco News, February 12, 2001

Pakistan's pollution levels making Indus dolphin infertile, Eco News, September 2000