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The Indus Dolphin survey team comprises 35 officials of the Sindh Wildlife Department and WWF–P. – AP Photo

KARACHI: The Sindh Wildlife Department in collaboration with the World Wide Fund for Nature – Pakistan (WWF–P) has launched a six-day blind Indus dolphin survey.

“Being conducted from Guddu to Sukkur, the survey would conclude on April 21 of this year,” said a senior official in the Wildlife department.

The survey team comprises 35 officials of the Sindh Wildlife Department and WWF–Pakistan.

The blind Indus dolphin survey was expected to take place in February but was delayed.

“Actually, the survey was scheduled to kick off from February 4. But, it was postponed on account of security reasons,” said Ghulam Mohammad Guddani, assistant conservator of the wildlife department.

According to the survey conducted by WWF-P in 2006, there are only 1,600 dolphins in 190-km Indus Dolphin Reserve, some 900 of them found in the area from the Guddu Barrage to Kotri Barrage.

There are reports that a number of blind dolphins have slipped into canals and other water channels from the River Indus following gushing floodwater.

“However, there becomes need to conduct survey and census of the blind Indus dolphin to assess their actual status,” said a senior wildlife official.

Coordinator of Indus River Dolphin Conservation Project of WWF-P, Uzma Naureen Khan, said that the falling water level in the River Indus, harmful fishing practices, use of poisonous chemicals by fishermen and construction of hydel power stations along the Indus are among others, serious threats to the survival of the unique species.

“Use of the poisonous chemicals by the greedy fishermen is too perilous, particularly when there is insufficient water in the river,” she remarked.

Naureen said that the recent death of seven blind Indus dolphins under mysterious conditions plunged the wildlife conservationists into shock. She stressed on urgent need for reviewing the Fishing Card System, maintaining a strict vigil over fishermen and altering designs of barrages, which divide the dolphin’s population into smaller families in the Indus River.

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