Indus River dolphin calves successfully rescued in eastern Pakistan



Posted on 08 July 2013  | 
Joint rescue teams of WWF-Pakistan and the Sindh Wildlife Department regularly carry out these operations.
© WWF-PakistanEnlarge
 Sukkur, Pakistan: A joint team of WWF-Pakistan and the Sindh Wildlife Department recently rescued two stray Indus River dolphin calves caught in a canal in eastern Pakistan.

The calves, a male and female, were stranded in the Dehar Wah canal for two hours before the successful rescue saw them released 80 km downstream.

Joint rescue teams from WWF-Pakistan and the Sindh Wildlife Department regularly carry out these operations. The stranded dolphins are carefully captured, placed on a stretcher, kept moist with water and wet towels, and transported in a sound-proof vehicle and released in the main stream of the Indus River.

The stranding of Indus River dolphins in irrigation canals is a potential threat to their existing population. Dolphins regularly travel back and forth into irrigation canals when canal gates are open and during canal closure the water level drops and dolphins become trapped in small pools with depleting fish supply.

Intensive fishing in canals during closure period also aggravates the risk of net entanglements of these endangered dolphins.

Since January 2013, four successful rescue operations have been carried out resulting in the rescue of five dolphins.

WWF-Pakistan launched the first phase of the “Indus River Dolphin Conservation Project” (IRDCP) in 2004 with the goal of preserving the dolphin’s genetic variability, conserving the biological diversity of the lower Indus River eco-system, ensuring sustainable use of river biological diversity and promoting actions to ease pollution and wasteful extraction of river resources, the second phase was launched in 2007.

The Indus River Dolphin Conservation Project focuses on the root causes of biodiversity loss by linking the protection of the Indus River Dolphin with measures in the agricultural and fisheries sectors.

Eco-tourism is also part of the project with dolphin watching tours and the new Indus Dolphin Conservation Centre in Sukkur. The project combines conservation work with the improvement of the livelihood of local communities.

The Indus River dolphin is one of the world's rarest mammal and most endangered cetaceans. A 2011 dolphin population survey estimated the population to be 1,297 individuals.
Joint rescue teams of WWF-Pakistan and the Sindh Wildlife Department regularly carry out these operations.
© WWF-Pakistan Enlarge
The calves were a male, 81.2 cm in length and weighing approximately 6 kg and a female, 91.4 cm in length and weighing about 9 kg.
© WWF-Pakistan Enlarge
Numbers for this species have dramatically declined since the construction of the irrigation system in the Indus. Most now remain in a 1200 km stretch of the Indus River.
© WWF-Pakistan Enlarge

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