THE dolphin is being taken to the Sukkur barrage for release.
THE dolphin is being taken to the Sukkur barrage for release.

KARACHI: A five-foot-long dolphin was recently rescued in an operation jointly conducted by the wildlife department and the World Wide Fund for Nature-Pakistan (WWF-P), officials reported on Tuesday.

According to the WWF-P, a male dolphin weighing about 30kg entered Faiz Behar, a tributary of Khairpur Feeder East Canal, about 85km from Sukkur, on Nov 14 and was being monitored by the staff since then.

“It was reported by the community residing near the tributary. As water level started going down yesterday, the dolphin got confused and we immediately planned for its rescue,” said WWF-P official Mohammad Imran Malik.

It’s the 8th incident of dolphin’s trapping this year, he added.

“Either it’s the heavy flow of water following canal gates’ opening or search for prey that brings the mammals into the tributaries where they get trapped as their water level starts going down,” he explained, pointing out that earlier such incidents mostly occurred in January but now happening the whole year.

According to Mr Malik, his organisation had initiated a number of programmes to protect dolphin population in collaboration with partners and has so far rescued over 126 mammals since 1992.

Under the Indus River Dolphin Conservation initiative undertaken by the WWF in collaboration with Sona Welfare Foundation, a dolphin monitoring network comprising representatives of relevant departments and local communities to monitor the Indus river and adjacent canals and tributaries has been working since last year.

The Indus river dolphin (Platanista gangetica minor) is endemic to the Indus river system of Pakistan. The species has been classified as endangered by the IUCN, indicating that it faces a high risk of extinction in the near future.

Only about 1,100 of this unique species exist today in the lower parts of the Indus River in Pakistan.

Their numbers have declined as a result of dam construction along the river, which has split the population into small groups, as well as from water pollution, poaching and being accidentally caught in fishing nets.

Published in Dawn, November 23rd, 2016

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