|Indus river dolphin|
Experts have recently indicated that the population of the Indus river dolphin is increasing, despite being confronted by threats such as addition of poisonous chemicals in water, illegal fishing, industrial waste, and sewage. A survey conducted in 2011 revealed that the number of dolphins occupying the Indus River between the Chashma and Kotri Barrages was 1,505. According to the World Wildlife Fund's senior project officer in Sukkur Imran Malik, the dolphins ended up towards Kotri Barrage during a powerful flood in 2010 and became vulnerable to slipping into the barrage's offshoot when searching for food during the yearly closure of canals every January. He further added that fishermen dumped poisonous chemicals into the river after the floods eased off, which resulted in considerable damage to the dolphins and other marine life. Since then, the World Wildlife Fund joined forces with the provincial wildlife and fisheries departments to establish an awareness campaign in that regard. In addition, he indicated that there are currently 1,452 dolphins in the river, out of which 96 were documented in between the Chashma and Taunsa Barrages, 465 between the Guddu and Taunsa Barrages, 857 between the Guddu and Sukkur Barrages, and 34 between the Kotri and Sukkur Barrages. According to the deputy conservator of Sukkur's wildlife department Taj Mohammed Shaikh, the reason the dolphin population has increased is due to the ongoing awareness campaign which helped people learn about the significance of marine life. Therefore, there had been no reported incidents of poisonous chemicals being added into the river or canals in the last two to three years.
Although this seems like promising news for the river dolphins in the Indus River ecosystem, this does not mean they should be safe from human activities on the long-run. There are still threats of sewage being released into the waters by people residing along riverbanks, chemicals for fishing being added into the river, hot water released from the Guddu thermal power station, and industrial waste dumped by factories in Sukkur and Ghotki District. This has led to the range between the Guddu and Sukkur Barrages being declared a protected area to protect the river dolphins. However, there are probably other areas between Pakistan's barrages where dolphins may be residing in considerable numbers. Therefore, is why it is extremely crucial to work in order to prevent the dolphins from becoming extinct. This does not only mean setting up an awareness campaign, but also establishing special treatment plants to remove any harmful material from sewage before being released into the river. Similar facilities should also be set up to treat industrial waste being produced from factories. Furthermore, a ban should be imposed on chemicals used for fishing and the policy for issuing fishing licenses must be reviewed. It is important to understand that awareness campaigns alone cannot guarantee the survival of an endangered species; there should also be an implementation of direct action towards any factors deemed as threats to that endangered species. For example, in the case of Indus river dolphins, the threat of pollution should be dealt with the establishment of treatment plants specializing in treating sewage and industrial waste in order to prevent the dolphins and other marine life from being severely harmed. The combination of awareness campaign and direct action can promise safety and survival of endangered species.
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