Factsheet: River Dolphins

Posted on 08 March 2006  | 
River dolphins and porpoises swim in some of the world's mightiest rivers, including the Ganges, Indus, Yangtze, Mekong, and Amazon.

But these river basins are also home to over 15 per cent of our planet's people and include some of the most densely populated, and poorest, areas on Earth.

Dam-building, entanglement in fishing nets, boat traffic, and pollution have led to drastic declines in dolphin populations over the last several decades. Several Asian species are now amongst the most endangered of all cetaceans. Urgent action is needed to prevent these charismatic animals, about which we still know very little, from becoming extinct.

River dolphins and porpoises are 'flagship' species for their habitats - charismatic representatives of the biodiversity within the complex ecosystems they inhabit. Efforts to safeguard these cetaceans will not only help save many other species, but will directly contribute to human development and survival by ensuring the availability of adequate and clean freshwater.

In 2005, WWF launched a new River Dolphin Initiative. With 40 years of experience in cetacean conservation, WWF is working with governments, other non-governmental organizations, industry, fishermen, and local communities to reduce or eliminate the threats to River dolphins and porpoises.
A WWF survey identified less than 2,000 Ganges River dolphins in India's rivers.
© WWF-India / Sandeep Behera Enlarge

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