Stranded dolphin safely rescued, back into Indus

Stranded dolphin safely rescued, back into Indus

Sukkur: A team of Sindh Wildlife Department, along with the local fishing community of Sukkur successfully rescued an entangled male Indus river dolphin on Monday.

It was stranded in the Dadu Canal and a resucue team of Sindh Wildlife department, the official custodian of wildlife species in the province, led by Taj Muhammad Sheikh, Deputy Conservator Wildlife, immediately arrived at the site and rescued it safely.

However, a press statement issued by World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) Pakistan claimed that WWF officials were participated in the rescue. "A trained rescue team led by Imran Malik, Project Coordinator also joined wildlife department officials in the rescue operation," claimed WWF-Pakistan's statement.

The rescue team carefully cut the fishing net to rescue the dolphin, and transported it in a sound proof vehicle (and constantly kept moist) until its release in the Indus River at Sukkur Barrage upstream. This dolphin was spotted by a local fisherman earlier today who reported it to the Indus Dolphin Rescue Helpline set-up by WWF-Pakistan.

According to Sindh Wildlife department officials, it was a 4 feet long that weighed around 16 kg and was a male dolphin.

It was fourth dolphin rescued by Sindh Wildlife officials since January 2016, three more were rescued from different channels and canals of the River Indus.

The Indus river dolphin (Platanista gangetica minor), an endangered freshwater cetacean and according to the official census, there are approximately 1,452 Indus river blind dolphins, reported between Chashma and Kotri barrages.

The Indus river dolphin population is highly fragmented due to the construction of water regulatory barrages with the largest population concentrated between Guddu and Sukkur barrages, a legally protected area known as the Indus Dolphin Game Reserve.

Intensive fishing in the core dolphin habitat is a major threat which increases the probability of dolphins becoming entangled in fishing nets, making it critical to continuously monitor the Indus River and adjacent canals.

"WWF-Pakistan has initiated numerous programmes to support and protect the population of these dolphins in collaboration with partners and has rescued more than 120 dolphins since 1992," claimed the statement issued by WWF-Pakistan.

"Our team thus far has conducted over 110 monitoring and awareness raising surveys this year. WWF-Pakistan set up the 24-hour phone helpline, , which has been instrumental to further strengthen the existing dolphin rescue programme" said Rab Nawaz, Senior Director Programmes, WWF-Pakistan.