Urooj Fatima, Green Blogger

Indus river dolphin commonly known as blind river dolphin and local name is bhulan. The status is an endangered and rarest mammal throughout the world. It is only found in Pakistan and India. This mammal is an important biological health indicator of aquatic ecosystem. Freshwater mammal rely on echolocation for communicate with other individual and for prey. Unfortunately, Indus river dolphin facing many threats that resulted in reduction of population.

The main threat is development infrastructure that are dam, irrigation canal, barrages that result in habitat fragmentation. WWF director, Dr. Uzma Khan told that 80% population of Indus river dolphin had removed due to development activities. In field study, it was revealed that the latest developmental activity CPEC project has effect on river ecology and alter sediment flow which impact the movement of water that is detrimental for dolphin prey and dolphin breeding area. In addition, Inland Waterway Project also has damaging effect. The other key threats are illegal harvesting of Indus river dolphin, By catch, Water pollution, decreased the level of freshwater.

WWF director of Pakistan, biodiversity, Dr. Uzma Khan declared that Indus river dolphin was existed in all main river of Pakistan comprising Sutlej, Beas, Ravi and Jhelum. Four surveys had conducted under the supervision of WWF-Pakistan, the number of Indus river dolphin was revealed from these survey. In 2001, 2006, 2011 and 2017 the number of Indus river dolphins were 965, 1,410, 1,452 and 1,816 reported. The higher number of individual of Indus river dolphin was found in between Guddu and Sukkur barrages about 1,075 individuals reported in different articles. Recently, in official website of WWF-Pakistan stated that population of Indus river dolphins are 1,960. From research data showed that number of species increase, it is only possible by holistic approach that is community involvement in conserving dolphin, awareness campaign and organization and partnership involved. The number of dolphin across the border in India, according to 2018 report, was present between 5 and 11 that is very critical and serious condition in India.

The conservation action to protect the species was making the protecting area that responsibility taken by Sindh Wildlife Department and other department. WWF of Pakistan is leading organization to protect the species especially increase awareness campaign in local community because local people play very important role to protect the species. Although the number of dolphin increase with past 20 years but it is dire need of time to make effort to conserve, protect the mammal. Other conservation option is river management and protect the habitat from infrastructure.

About the Author: Urooj Fatima is a fresh graduate of Environmental Sciences and very enthusiast to spread the words of awareness for betterment of environment.