Young boys were caught dragging the body of the female dolphin by a rope near the Sukkur thermal power station on Thursday.
The Indus River dolphin was found dead by people in the area who told The Express Tribune that the wildlife department had been informed but no one had responded. Witnesses claim that two men on a motorcycle arrived the same day and threw the dolphin into the river.
The Express Tribune got in touch with the department’s deputy conservator Taj Mohammad Shaikh who claimed that his team had taken the mammal to the dolphin centre near Lab-e-Mehran, where after a thorough examination the dolphin was buried. Shaikh claimed that the mammal had not been thrown into the river.
He added that the three-and-a-half foot dolphin was three years old and weighed around 18 kilogrammes. “The dolphin might have died a natural death as there were no marks on the body,” he said.
Shaikh added that he did his best to inform fishermen about how the Indus River dolphins were a rare species. “Professional fishermen never harm the dolphin but those people who catch fish illegally and do not know anything about spreading the net in the river are a danger to the mammals,” he said. “Instead of releasing the dolphin once it gets entangled, those fishermen run away and the mammal can be killed.”
Save the dolphins
The Indus river dolphin is practically blind and one of the world’s rarest mammals. It is also the second most endangered freshwater dolphin and nearly 1,100 dolphins of this species exist in the country today. The dolphins are disappearing at a rapid rate because of water pollution, poaching, fragmentation of habitat from barrages. They also frequently get stuck in the irrigation canals.
Since 2010, nearly fifteen dolphins were found dead near the Sukkur Barrage. Around seven were found near Ali Wahan when the barrage was being shut down in January last year, another three were found dead near the gates of the barrage. The others were found between the Guddu and Sukkur barrages.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 20th, 2011.
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