Blind Dolphins of Pakistan nearing extinction
(Indo-Asian News Service)
5th July 2004
A group of nature lovers in Pakistan has called for international attention to the plight of 1,000 odd Blind Dolphins in the Indus River.
It urged the world to press upon the Pakistan government to help preserve the rare specie, which is present over a 1,500 km stretch between Jinnah Barrage in Punjab to Kotri Barrage in Sindh.
"The Indus Dolphin is in danger of extinction because of the extensive irrigation system on the river," Zafar Hashmi, the group coordinator, told IANS.
He said irrigation barrages were preventing dolphins from swimming freely. In addition, farming activity was draining most of the Indus river water, reducing its flow and drying it up in some areas in the winter months.
"As a result, the dolphin population has drastically decreased in the last two to three decades," he said.
He said the group had contacted several organisations for help. "It is regrettable that our government is doing nothing to preserve these rare fish."
Professional fishing tribes are the principal predators for the dolphin. "These people hunt the dolphins for their oil or kill them for meat," he said.
Sometimes dolphins get caught accidentally in fishermen's nets and die.
The rare specie is called by various names, including Indus Susu - a local name, Blind River Dolphin and the Side-Swimming Dolphin.
Until the 1970s, this species was thought to be the same as the Ganges River Dolphin.
The Indus River Dolphin has a long beak that thickens toward the tip, revealing the large teeth. The forehead is steep and the blowhole is on the left of the head, above the tiny, poorly-seeing eye.
Indus River Dolphins are grey brown in colour, sometimes with a pinkish belly, and measure between 1.5 metres and 2.5 metres in length, weighing a maximum of 90 kg.
Breeding takes place in alternate years in shallow water. The reproductive season is from March to May.