Rare Indus Dolphins Spotted in Harike
Chandigarh, January 8, 2008: Sh. Tikshan Sud, Minister for Forests and Wildlife Preservation, Punjab, has expressed immense satisfaction on confirmation by WWF-India, the rediscovery and sighting of the highly endangered Indus dolphin, Platanista minor, at Harike Wildlife Sanctuary. Addressing a press conference in his office chambers, Sh Sud thanked the team of Sh. Moses Pereira, Dr. Sandeep Behera and Dr. Asghar Nawab, experts from the WWF-India, who gave a presentation before the minister regarding their finding and recommendations with respect to the dolphins, for the work done so far and also extended all possible help to the experts in their future endeavours to conserve the dolphins.
It may be recalled that the endangered mammals were first sighted and reported by Sh. Basanta Rajkumar, Divisional Forest Officer and sanctuary in charge, during a routine visit of the sanctuary in early December 2007. After the report of the officer, the Forest Department approached the WWF-India to confirm this rare sighting.
A team of WWF-India officials led by Dr Sandeep Behera, Dolphin Coordinator at the WWF-India under the wetland programme and Dr. Asghar Nawab, expert on aquatic mammals, travelled to the Harike sanctuary and conducted extensive surveys with the support of the Forest Department staff. After three days of extensive river-patrolling in chilly Northern Indian winter, the report was confirmed: Beas-Sutlej River system has Dolphins.
Dr Sandeep Behera speaking about the dolphin sighting said, "Although the physical appearance of the dolphins sighted looks like the Indus River Dolphin, confirmation of this species can only be validated after detailed study and investigation." He added, "This may be the Indus dolphin found in Pakistan or a sub-species of it."
River Dolphins swim in some of the world's mightiest rivers, including the Ganges, Indus, Yangtse and the Amazon. But these river basins are also home to over 15 percent of the world's population and include some of the most densely populated and poorest areas on the earth. Human perturbations and anthropogenic disturbances have led to drastic declines in dolphin populations over much of their distribution images during the last several decades. Several Asian species are now amongst the most endangered of all mammals.
To ensure that the Dolphins in the Beas-Sutlej River System are protected, WWF has made the following recommendations to the State Forest Department:
1. For immediate protection and monitoring of the located dolphin population, the Punjab State Forest Department should depute frontline forest staff for patrolling the river stretch of the Beas, till a detailed action plan is formulated for the conservation of the species.
2. Conduct an Intensive scientific survey of the Beas River system to identify the status of dolphin population.
3. Extensive outreach and education programmes for local people must be initiated at the earliest
4. A detailed action plan for the long term conservation of the Dolphins and other freshwater species should be developed.
The minister assured that the state would give top priority towards this end.
For more information, please contact:
Mr. Basanta Rajkumar IFS Officer, Department of Forest & Wildlife Preservation Govt of Punjab
Tel: +91 9988421399, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Sandeep Behera, Coordinator Freshwater Species, WWF-India
Tel: +91-9312902040, E-mail: email@example.com
Mr. Moses Pereira, Director Communications, WWF-India
Tel: +91-9958406119, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org