Two scientists, William Roxburgh and Heinrich Julius Lebeck, are credited with separately discovering the Ganges dolphin – both in the same year, 1801. The Indus river dolphin is one of its subspecies. According to expert Gillian T. Braulik, of the Downstream Research Group, the range of the Indus dolphin has declined 80% since 1870. The mammals occur in five groups in Pakistan that are separated by the irrigation barrages. They are seen the most between Guddu and Sukkur barrages where there are relatively lower levels of interference from humans and better conservation efforts.
Alarm has been raised repeatedly in Sindh though, over their dwindling numbers. In fact, just in March this year, a panicked Sindh government banned fishing from its Guddu to Sukkur barrages after a hue and cry was raised as two dozen dolphins were reported dead the previous year.
The blind Indus dolphin is one of the rarest species on earth due to its unique features. They are generally between 1.5 and 2.5 metres long and can weigh up to 90kg. They are called ‘blind’ because they don’t have a crystalline eye lens.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 27th, 2012.