Indus blind dolphin rescued and released in Sukkur barrage

Indus blind dolphin

Indus blind dolphin rescued and released in Sukkur barrage (file)

By Arbaz Ahmed Janjhi

KARACHI, Dec 10,2023:  A daring rescue operation unfolded when an Indus blind dolphin strayed from the canal gates at Faiz Wah in Khairpur district. The Sindh Wildlife Department swiftly responded, successfully rescuing the endangered creature and releasing it into the Sukkur Barrage.

The rescue team, led by Adnan Hamid and Mir Akhtar of the Sindh Wildlife Department, executed a seamless operation that culminated in the release of the Indus Blind Dolphin upstream of the Indus River at the Sukkur Barrage.

The rescue operation, though fraught with a 100% risk of fatality for dolphins stranded in canals, showcased the Sindh Wildlife Department’s exceptional track record. Over the last five years, the department has achieved a 100% success rate in rescuing and safely releasing these unique and endangered aquatic mammals.

Indus river dolphins, tracing their origin back to the ancient Tethys Sea, faced significant challenges when the sea dried up around 50 million years ago. Forced to adapt, they found refuge in the rivers, with the lower parts of the Indus River in Pakistan and the River Beas in Punjab, India being their last remaining habitats. In Pakistan, their population suffered a drastic decline after the construction of irrigation systems, leaving them confined to a 750-mile stretch of the river, segmented by six barrages.

The blind dolphins, functionally blind in their muddy river habitat, rely on echolocation for navigation, communication, and hunting prey such as prawns, catfish, and carp. The successful rescue and release underscore the importance of conservation efforts to protect these unique and endangered species and ensure the sustainability of their habitat in the Indus River.