1. Raising awareness about the conservation of Indus River dolphin among 600 people of local community living around the area of Taunsa Barrage.
2. Mobilizing fishermen communities living along the river Indus to put efforts in protecting dolphins during fishing operations.
3. Establishing two ecotourism community enterprises for operating dolphin, bird watching trips in target area so as to provide alternate source of income and an incentive to conserve dolphins.
4. Raising awareness about the conservation of Indus River Dolphin among the general public through the use of internet, press and electronic media.
5. Establishing two teams of friends of Indus River Dolphin to manage rescue operations in the area and train 20 local fishermen in dolphin rescue skills.
Ecotourism Project for Conservation of Indus River Dolphin
Sustainable Tourism Foundation Pakistan (www.stfp.org) 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.
The Indus River dolphin (Platanista minor) which is locally known as Bulhan occurs only in the Indus River in Pakistan. 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).
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 to minimize the threats through the mass awareness campaign. The project is fostering community-based “stewardship” for the conservation of Bulhan in the area of Taunsa Barrage through local community participation. Under this project efforts are being 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. The project is providing alternate source of income to the fishermen through ecotourism 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. The improved level of 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.
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