The number of the endangered Indus River dolphin, also known as bhulan or the ‘blind dolphin’, is on the rise – a significant positive development despite pollution threat, a study conducted by WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) Pakistan has revealed.
In its report titled ‘Signs of Hope for the Endemic and Endangered Bhulan,’ WWF Pakistan noted that the species, almost at point of extinction a decade ago, has increased in number from only 1,200 in 2001 to 1816 -1900 in 2017.
The study, conducted by a team of experts from the Zoological Survey Department of Pakistan, WWF Pakistan, academic researchers from various educational institutions and the wildlife departments of Sindh, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, concluded at least 1,816 dolphins were sighted in the long stretch of 808 kilometres of the main channel of the Indus River.
The blind dolphin is an obligate freshwater cetacean species found in the Indus River, Pakistan. It is the second most endangered freshwater dolphin species in the world, the first being the ‘functionally extinct’ Yangtze River dolphin.
WWF Pakistan says it has adopted a participatory approach to working for the conservation of this endangered and endemic species.
A dolphin rescue programme has been in place since 1992, jointly led by WWF Pakistan and the Sindh Wildlife Department to rescue any stranded dolphins from canals and safely release them back into the main river channel.
WWF Pakistan and the Sindh Wildlife Department have also established a dolphin monitoring network in collaboration with relevant stakeholders and local communities to monitor the Indus River as well as its adjacent canals and tributaries to rescue any stranded dolphins.