EDGE Community

Project information

[Project name/title]
Conservation of the Indus River dolphin

[Project description/overview]

The lower Indus River in Pakistan, from Deri Ismail Khan, NWFP Province to Hyderabad, Sindh Province.

Project type:

Relevant EDGE species:
(Platanista minor)

Project members:
Gill Braulik

Relevant species
. (Platanista minor)

The local name ’bhulan‘ is said to refer to the noise this dolphin makes when it breathes.

[Relevance description]
The Indus River dolphin is endemic to Pakistan and has suffered an 80% decline in range in the last 100 years. The factors causing the range decline are not understood and this information is vital for conserving the remaining animals. This project aims to increase understanding of the species status, trends in abundance, habitat and the threats it faces with the ultimate goal of proposing suitable protected areas and for improved management of the population.
The Indus dolphin conservation initiative is conducted under the umbrella of the Pakistan Wetlands Programme (www.pakistanwetlands.org). This is an ambitious 7 year, internationally funded programme to conserve and sustainably manage Pakistan’s wetlands while alleviating poverty. The programme is being implemented by WWF-Pakistan. As a charismatic, endemic and endangered freshwater-dependent mammal the Indus River dolphin is the flagship species for the project.
Project summary
The Indus River dolphin is a freshwater dependent mammal and is one of the world’s most endangered cetaceans. Endemic to Pakistan, very little is known about its biology and status, the factors driving its decline and the management measures required for its conservation. This project is conducted hand-in-hand with provincial wildlife departments, local NGOs and universities and includes the following components designed to improve our understanding and management of the species:

1. monitor distribution, abundance and trends in abundance
2. evaluate suitable methods for monitoring distribution and abundance
3. assess population fragmentation by barrages
4. assess the influence of river morphology, depth and velocity on dolphin distribution and density
5. evaluate dry season habitat preferences
6. identify when and why dolphins were extirpated from the Indus tributaries
6. investigate the taxonomic status of the subspecies
7. propose suitable protected areas and management measures.
Start date: January 2006
Duration: 3 years
Project members

Gill is an expert on river dolphins in Asia

[Member role description]
Project partners
Pakistan Wetlands Programme
NWFP Wildlife Department, Punjab Wildlife Department, Sindh Wildlife
Department, Federal Ministry of Environment, University of St. Andrews, UK,
WWF-Pakistan, Adventure Foundation Pakistan and University of Durham, UK.
Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, UK
Peoples Trust for Endangered Species, UK
Ministry of Environments Pakistan Wetlands Programme
[Title:] Species
[Image caption]
Indus River dolphin surfacing
[Title:] Project location
[Image caption]
Sand banks in the Indus River
[Title:] Activities
[Image caption]
Old Pakistani fishermen
[Title:] Project location
[Image caption]
Sunset over the Indus in northwestern frontier province
[Title:] Activities
[Image caption]
A typical Indus ferry
[Title:] Activities
[Image caption]
Fish monger next to the Indus River