Highlights

Wildlife Department, Fisheries Department, Irrigation Department, Forest Department, Education Department, WWF Pakistan and other local NGOs also participated in these events.

STFP Launches Ecotourism Project for Conservation of Unique Indus River Dolphin

09 December | 2014

Hunting of Bulhan in order to extract oil which was used in medicines by locals was reported in history

 

On this occasion, community activists and project field staff jointly presented a street theater performance on Indus River Dolphin

Brief Report on Awareness Raising Workshops on Indus River Dolphin

 

Sustainable Tourism Foundation Pakistan (STFP) a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of Eco-friendly tourism in Pakistan has launched a project with the help of NRSP-USAID Small Grants and Ambassador’s Fund Program for seeking fishermen community and general public support for the conservation of unique Indus Blind Dolphin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In this connection, a series of awareness raisings workshops were recently held for the local fishermen community of Indus River at Taunsa Barrage and Ghazi Ghat area of South Punjab. Three workshops were held from 2 to 5 February and three workshops were held from 16 to 18 February 2015. Mr. Z. B. Mirza, who is a renewed nature conservationist of Pakistan, conducted these workshops which were attended by more than 600 men, women and children from local community. Officials from concerned government departments and NGOs such as Punjab

Wildlife Department, Fisheries Department, Irrigation Department, Forest Department, Education Department, WWF Pakistan and other local NGOs also participated in these events.

 

Mr. Mirza through an illustrated power point presentation informed the audience about the interesting facts about the Indus River dolphin (Platanista minor) which is locally known as Bulhan and occurs only in the Indus River in Pakistan. He informed, it is also known as Indus blind dolphin as it is functionally blind due to its unique adaptation to living in turbid river environment over the long period of time. He informed that historically these dolphins were found in large number right from the Indus estuary up into the foothills of the Himalayas but now the current population of Bulhan in Indus River from Jinnah Barrage to Kotri Barrage is just around 1400 which is not very healthy number for the survival of any wild animal species due to which it is listed as an “Endangered Species” by the World Conservation Union (IUCN).

 

While talking about the main threats to Indus Blind Dolphin he informed that the barrages on the river are the main cause of its highly fragmented habitat due to which these dolphins live in small populations which have been separated by impassable barrages across the Indus River.More over dolphins are being killed due to lack of awareness among the local communities.

 

Hunting of Bulhan in order to extract oil which was used in medicines by locals was reported in history. Many people are not familiar with this animal and sometimes dolphins swim along irrigation canals and become trapped in narrow channels where they are killed by local people considering it some dangerous animal because of its snout resemblance with the crocodile. He further said that a significant increase is observed in illegal fishing practices in the past few years where pesticide poisoning is used to maximize fish catch. Use of overnight fishing nets has also negatively impacted on the Indus River Dolphin. He said water pollution is another serious threat to the existing small population of the Bulhan. Especially in winter when water level is low, the level of pollution increases. Heavy use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers on agricultural lands add harmful chemicals into the Indus River though runoff water which pollute the habitat of the dolphins.  He stressed that if we did not pay serious attention to these threats the time will come that this rare species of dolphin will be completely vanished from the earth.

 

Mr. Aftab Rana, Project Team Leader, while giving details about the project, informed the audience that the project “Conservation of Indus River Dolphin through Community based Ecotourism at Taunsa Barrage” is working to create awareness about the protection of Bulhan among the local fisher communities, concerned stakeholders and general public through the mass awareness raising campaign.  He said, through local community involvement and empowerment the project is striving to foster community-based “stewardship” for the conservation of Bulhan in the area of Taunsa Barrage, providing alternate source of income to the fishermen through ecotourism. He said, ecotourism is special concept which promotes an environmentally friendly, culturally sensitive tourism and it is designed in a way that the maximum economic benefit of such tourism activity could reach to the local community.  Under the project efforts will be made to build the capacity of local community to improve their services and skills to deal with nature loving tourists who will be willing to come for dolphin watching, bird watching and having unique experience of rural life of South Punjab in organized groups from main cities of Pakistan and from abroad.  He said that the income from the ecotourism activity will be an incentive and reward for the poor fishermen community and it will encourage them to be friendlier with Indus River dolphin and play active role to conserve one of the most unique species living in the world today. He thanked NRSP-USAID Small Grants and Ambassador’s Fund Program for providing financial support to launch this project.

 

On this occasion, community activists and project field staff jointly presented a street theater performance on Indus River Dolphin which was highly appreciated by all the participants. In the final round question answer sessions were conduct by Mr. Zulfiqar, Project Manager to measure the impact of training. He asked various questions from the participants which were replied by the participants with great enthusiasm and interest. A comic book on Indus Blind Dolphin which is specially prepared by STFP to create awareness among local communities was also distributed among participants as a token gift for giving right answers. This informative booklet in Urdu language is written by Mr. Z. B. Mirza and illustrations are contributed by Mrs. Huma Wasiq.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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