Second Indus Dolphin Death in Sindh in 2020

In recent events, another dolphin death was reported in Sindh, one of the rare species, the blind Indus Dolphins living in Mirwah Canal.

On Sunday, 19th December, a juvenile blind dolphin was found dead and stranded in a plastic dump in one of Sukkur Barrage’s canal, Mirwah, located in Khairpur’s Faiz Ganj taluka, Sindh making it the second dolphin death in Sindh.

The blind Indus dolphins are already a rare species, also called Bulhan, this is the second death reported in Sindh in 2020, as stated by the Sindh Wildlife Department (SWD) Sukkur Deputy Conservator, Adnan Khan.

After investigation upon the dolphin death in Sindh, Adnan Khan said that the dolphin’s dead body was recovered by local villagers in Sindh who believe that the dolphin was still alive by the time they found it. Adnan Khan further mentioned, “the villagers did not kill the dolphin, but tried to rescue it.”

Khan also said the dolphin death in Sindh included one of the three dolphins that used to reside in the Mirwah canal in Sindh, as villagers saw it struggle with plastic wrapped around its beak, they rushed to its rescue immediately. “Unfortunately, the dolphin died before they could release her from the plastic wrapped around her beak,” he regretted.

The deceased dolphin was then transported to Sukkur for a postmortem. The dolphin was reportedly nine-months-old and the wildlife experts are yet to find out the exact time and cause behind the mammal’s death according to the filing of this report, Sindh Wildlife Department Chief Conservator, Javed Ahmed Mahar, reckoned that the plastic items entangled around the dolphin’s beak were what likely led to its death in the Mirwah Canal, Sindh.

These Indus dolphins usually live around Sukkur and Guddu barrages, and these three dolphins which were present at the canal had likely traveled over 80 km to get there. Addressing the dolphin deaths in Sindh, Adnan Khan said, “In most cases, people living around Sukkur Barrage inform wildlife teams of mammals present in the canal. They also have knowledge of rescuing the animals and assist wildlife teams during rescue operations.”

However, the number of dolphins in Sindh has significantly decreased this year and with two reported dolphin deaths this year. By 2019, the number of dolphins present in the canals between Sukkur and Guddu barrages was 1419. The first dolphin was reported dead on 30th October, when a villager mishandled it while transporting it. The villager is now accused of the death of the species and now imprisoned.

“This makes the incident in Faiz Ganj taluka the second reported occurrence of a dolphin’s death in Sindh,” said Khan, adding that the SWD had also received information of another dolphin stranded in Khairpur. He further stated that rescuing these stranded dolphins is not easy, he said, adding that his department intended to rescue all stranded dolphins between January 6 and January 25, when the Sukkur Barrage is supposed to remain closed.

According to Mahar, an SWD team has been trying to locate the other two dolphins sighted in the Mirwah canal after the death of one of three dolphins in Sindh. “But foggy weather is one of the main hurdles during a search and rescue operation,” he said.

Moreover, while he, too, confirmed that the incident in Faiz Ganj taluka was the second reported occurrence of a dolphin’s death in Sindh, Khan appealed to people to not throw plastic items in waterways. “These plastic items are killing all living beings,” he said.

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