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Friday, 12 January, 2001, 17:49 GMT
Rare Pakistan dolphin under threat
Blind Indus dolphin
An Indus dolphin is rescued by local people
Environmentalists in Pakistan have warned that the rare Indus blind dolphin, which is unique to the country, is in danger of extinction.

There are just 600 blind river dolphins left in Pakistan as they have been severely affected by the large number of barrages along the Indus river, which is their only habitat.

Their movement has also been restricted by irrigation systems in Punjab and Sindh provinces.

The creature is one of only a handful of freshwater dolphins in the world, and navigates through the silt and mud of the Indus using a sophisticated sonar system.

Valuable oil

Local fishermen have inadvertently caught the dolphins in their nets and have also been responsible for killing some of them for their oil, which is considered to have medicinal properties and to be good for the skin.

Map
Pakistan's Adventure Foundation - a non-commercial private organisation - is sending a rafting expedition down the River Indus to raise awareness about the plight of the dolphins.

The project is being funded by the UN Development Programme.

Expedition leader Aftab ur-Rahman said the number of dolphins had not increased for the last two decades.

He said part of the problem was in-breeding as the dolphins could not migrate as far as they used to in order to find mates.

The nine-member team, travelling on inflatable rafts, will talk to fishing communities about ways to preserve the dolphins and discuss the possibilities of starting eco-tourism in the area to provide an alternative source of income.

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09 Nov 00 | Northern Ireland
Global warming threat to dolphins
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