Indus river dolphin numbers have increased dramatically over the past 16 years, thanks largely to successful community-based conservation efforts.
A new WWF survey says there are now an estimated 1,816 Indus river dolphins in Pakistan—almost 50% more than the 1,200 dolphins estimated during the first comprehensive census in 2001 when the species appeared to be on the brink of extinction.
“Significantly increasing the number of Indus river dolphins over the past 15 years is a remarkable achievement considering the ever-increasing pressure on the river and the species,” said Hammad Naqi Khan, director general of WWF-Pakistan. “And it shows that progress is possible when governments, conservationists, and communities work together.”
The survey ran from March 20 to April 13 during low water season when the dolphins are most concentrated and easiest to count. A team of 20 scientists and researchers from WWF-Pakistan, Zoological Survey of Pakistan, and provincial wildlife departments, academia canvased the Indus river dolphin range. Except for a tiny, isolated population of about 30 in India’s Beas River, Indus river dolphins live exclusively in the Indus river in Pakistan.