Entangled Indus dolphin rescued, released into waters
Four-feet long, weighing 16.5 kilograms, a male Indus River Dolphin, which had accidentally trapped into a fisherman’s net at Dadu Canal, was released unhurt, WWF-Pakistan said on Monday. In a joint effort with The Sindh Wildlife Department and local fishermen community, the WWF-Pakistan helped the trapped dolphin return to waters safely. The WWF-Pakistan called it a ‘successful’ release of the river specie.
It said that the trained rescue team led by Imran Malik, Project Coordinator, WWF-Pakistan and Taj Muhammad Sheikh, Deputy Conservator Wildlife, The Sindh Wildlife Department immediately reached the spot following a warning call about the trapped dolphin at the canal.
The rescue team carefully cut the fishing net to rescue 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 during the day, who reported it to the Indus Dolphin Rescue Helpline set-up by WWF-Pakistan. This time it was a four feet long male dolphin which weighed 16.5 kg. The team has successfully rescued four dolphins so far this year, the earlier three were rescued stranded in low canal waters originating from the Indus River.
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. The 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.
Community awareness and education has also helped substantially decrease stranding-induced dolphin mortalities in recent years. According to Rab Nawaz, Senior Director Programmes, WWF-Pakistan, “As part of its existing Indus river dolphin conservation initiative, undertaken with the financial support of Sona Welfare Foundation, WWF-Pakistan has established a dolphin monitoring network of representatives of relevant departments and local communities to monitoring the Indus River and adjacent canals and tributaries.”
The team thus far has conducted over 110 monitoring and awareness raising surveys this year. WWF-Pakistan set up the 24-hour phone helpline, 071 561 5505, which has been instrumental to further strengthen the existing dolphin rescue programme.”
The Indus river dolphin (Platanista gangetica minor), an endangered freshwater cetacean, is a WWF priority species. Pakistan is home to approximately 1,452 Indus river dolphins, distributed 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.