LAHORE – WWF-Pakistan organised an international workshop on the Indus River Dolphin Conservation Strategy and Action Plan in collaboration with Punjab, Sindh, and Khyber PK Wildlife Departments here on Tuesday.

The two day workshop, which will conclude on Wednesday (today), has brought together policy makers, government officials, conservationists, dolphin species specialists, foreign experts and research students in a concentrated effort to better protect the species and effective implementation of existing laws.

The objective of the workshop is to develop a conservation strategy for the Indus River Dolphin for the next ten years (2012 – 2022), through a consultative process, involving major stakeholders and endorsement of the government for integration of the Indus Dolphin conservation in the Annual Development Plan.

Secretary Forest, Wildlife & Fisheries Punjab Shahnawaz Badar, Secretary Forest & Wildlife, Sindh Mushtaq Ali Memon, Inspector General of Forest Ministry of Disaster Management Syed Mehmood Nasir, Chief Conservator KPK Wildlife Department Syed Mubarak Ali Shah, as well as IUCN Cetacean Specialist Group Member Dr Gill Braulik, International & Policy Program Director, Marine Mammal Commission Dr Peter Thomas  and Vice Chairman Mammalogical Society of China & President of the Wuhan Baiji Conservation Foundation Professor Wang Ding, were also present at the workshop.

Speaking on the occasion, DG WWF Ali Hassan Habib, stressed the necessity of a cross-provincial partnership between the authorities and conservation organisations to promote safety of the endangered Indus dolphin. He stated that ‘nature’s minorities’ in Pakistan also deserve due attention.

Mushtaq Ali Memon recounted how negligence and ignorance of fishermen often affects dolphin population, and how awareness is critical. It was revealed that, Fisheries Department, Water Management and Irrigation Departments were also working with the Wildlife Departments and WWF Pakistan to conserve and protect the dwindling population of Indus dolphins.

Indus River dolphin, locally called Bhulan is one of the four species of river dolphins in the world. The unique species which is found only in the Indus River is a national treasure for Pakistan. The Dolphin also has cultural and ecological importance, and indicates the healthy river system for other species, which form the backbone of the economy for communities living in the Indus delta.

Participants at the workshop discussed the issues prevalent in the conservation of the Indus dolphin and existing policies and relative legislations.

The second day of the workshop will feature discussions on strengthening policy and legal framework, new research, how to increase community participation and fundraising, introducing regional initiatives, and presentation of key recommendations.