Indus River dolphin

Imagine if there were only four or five hundred people left on the planet. And that of those hundreds, tens were dying off daily due to pollution or other challenges presented by another species. How would the world be?

If human beings were the River Indus dolphins, then that is how life would be. The 80-90kg, 1.5 to 2.5-meter dolphin, a native of the Indus River in Pakistan, is one of the world’s most rare cetaceans according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). As such, more world bodies are trying to come up with ways to ensure the survival of the blind dolphin’s species, among them the World Wildlife Fund and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

A Resource that should be preserved

The Indus River dolphin is not as celebrated as its cousins on the marine side. On the contrary, the freshwater cetacean is endangered because of people’s neglect toward it. Careless disregard of the dolphins by fishermen has caused the decline in their numbers, seemingly because the species is not regarded as a resource. However, scientists from the Pakistani Information Technology University (ITU) in Lahore disagree with this assessment.

In one interview, head of BiSMil Lab (a collaborative effort between ITU and the World Wildlife Fund aimed at preserving the endangered dolphins) Director Suleman Mazhar said that studies on the dolphin’s biological solar systems could have significant applications.

“They could be used in environmental conservation efforts… maybe even aid in developing navigation devices for blind people,” Director Mazhar remarked.

Parties that are trying to conserve the rare freshwater dolphin include the World Wildlife Fund which is funding the research to make promote widespread Indus River dolphin conservation at ITU, UNESCO which gives grants for conservation efforts and the Pakistan Museum of Natural History (PMNH) which leads preservation of the Indus River dolphin’s habitat in the country.