Punjab to begin Census of Indus River Dolphin

The state of Punjab is set to start the Census of one of the world’s most threatened cetaceans, Indus River dolphin.

Key facts

  • Indus River dolphin is scientifically called as Platanista gangetica minor.
  • It is a freshwater dolphin, found in river Beas.
  • Census will start in winter as part of a project by the Central government. However, Punjab’s wildlife preservation wing will move a step ahead and it not only protect dolphins but also their natural habitat.
  • Project will be implemented over five years.
  • under it, emphasis will be laid on collecting data on spatial & temporal distribution pattern of species and population status by means of an established and approved methodology.

IUCN status

In the IUCN red list, Indus River dolphin is classified as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Where they are found?

Until recently, dolphins were believed to be endemic to Pakistan. However, a remnant but viable population of Indus dolphins was discovered in Harike wildlife sanctuary of Punjab as well as in lower Beas River in 2007. Since its discovery, Punjab’s Department of Forests and Wildlife Preservation is conducting research in association with the WWF-India on the habitat use, current distribution and population of dolphins.

State aquatic animal

In 2019, Indus River dolphin was declared as the State aquatic animal of Punjab.

Beas-Dolphin Mitras

Under the initiative by Punjab, extension programmes will be organised by a group of dedicated individuals called ‘Beas-Dolphin Mitras’ [friends and protectors] of river Beas. The project will also embark on dolphin eco-tourism.

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