1419

Indus River Dolphin

Asia

1419

Platanista minor

Endangered

The construction of the river irrigation contributed to the fast population decrease of this dolphin species. It resulted to pollution, scarcity of food source, as well as accidental deaths in irrigation canals and fishing gear. Proximity to human settlements makes it easy to hunt them to be sold as meat products and medicinal ingredients.

Indus River Dolphins, endemic aquatic mammals to the longest river in Asia, is Pakistan’s National Mammal. They belong to the only four river dolphin species in the world and are considered as the second most endangered river dolphin species.

Though functionally blind, these warm-blooded freshwater cetaceans are well adapted to the muddy river waters by relying on echolocation to hunt prey, navigate with ease, and communicate with other dolphins.

The biggest threat to the existence of these dolphins is the man-made irrigation system built in its foraging grounds. This leads to a number of issues: decline of fish stocks due to overfishing; pollution brought by crop fertilizers; vulnerability to poaching; disrupted feeding and breeding patterns due to barrages.