The Nanjing Normal University of China is supervising an international joint collaboration for scientific studies on the river dolphins, including the Indus dolphin of Pakistan.
Dr Aamir Ibrahim, is a research scholar at the Nanjing Normal University and participating in the project, told Dawn on Saturday that the collaborative studies are aimed at long-term conservation of river dolphins and making decisions for the management of the endangered species.
He says Punjab wildlife and parks department, Sindh wildlife department, the University de Chile, South America and Nanjing Normal University (China) are participating in the joint collaboration under the supervision of Prof Dr Guang Yang, who is head of the research project.
They have plans to conduct comparative studies on anatomical and molecular levels to explore different aspects of river dolphins conservation, he says, adding that the studies will be helpful to understand these mysterious species.
“River dolphins are distributed among some major riverine ecosystems of the world. The Lioptes dolphin in Yangt River of China, Platanista in Ganges (India) and the Indus river system of Indian subcontinent and the Inia dolphins in the Amazon river system of South America.”
He says that all these dolphins did not belong to same group and their similarities are correlated to their adaptation in similar highly turbid, fluvial waters.
He says that river dolphins and marine dolphins have not remained the same, adding that the river dolphins are very sensitive to any change in their environment, while their habitats are being affected by anthropogenic activities.
He says as more dams and barrages are being planned on the Indus, Ganges and Amazon River systems, it will impact river dolphins, adding that recently, the extinction of the Lioptes dolphins in China is a glaring example of the negative anthropogenic impacts on them.
He says how Lipotes became extinct after construction of dams/barrages, rapidly increasing human population and fishing practices, is an alert for us to learn a lesson and should have an impact on taking decisions for the conservation and management of these endangered species of river dolphins.
Now, it is the time to look at the issue with fresh eyes on these river dolphins. The looming extinction of these unique river dolphins should be a major conservation priorities.