Last month five Indus River dolphins (Platanista gangetica minor) were found dead in Pakistan with three females and a male found at the village of Ali Wahan and another female found floating further upstream the Indus River. The cause of death is yet to be determined and post-mortems are being carried out on three of the dolphins. It is thought that the cause of death is most likely to be net entanglement or poisoning.
The Indus River dolphin is an endangered freshwater species endemic to the Indus river system in Pakistan. The dolphin is placed under considerable pressure by habitat degradation caused by the damming of rivers for irrigation and electricity and by unsustainable fishing methods. Many fishermen use illegal nets and poison to fish, which along with pesticides that wash into the river, are killing dolphins.
The last population survey was conducted in 2006 and reported a population of 1,293 individuals. Another survey is due to start next month and the results will reveal how the population has changed since the introduction of a fishing card system in the Indus River which permits anyone who buys a fishing card to fish without limits on the river with no accountability being held.
Action must be taken to save the Indus River dolphin from the same fate that fell on the Yangtze River dolphin which became functionally extinct in 2006 and provided a stark warning of the effects human activities have on wildlife. The population of Indus River dolphins would benefit from stricter fishing controls, the ban of fishing within the dolphin reserve area and by addressing the use of poison and pesticides in the river system.
You can read the original news article about the dolphin deaths on Wildlife Extra News here.
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