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Population of the endangered Indus river dolphin living in a small stretch of the Beas river in Punjab according to a survey conducted in 2018. Despite the tiny population, there is some good news. Researchers found a calf during a survey, which shows that the population is breeding. The presence of a young calf indicates a population that is large enough to be viable. The bad news - Numerous dams, weirs and barrages that have sprung along the Indus and its tributaries have led to fragmentation of the rivers and the habitat of the dolphins, restricting them to small pockets. These structures have stopped the dolphins from moving between India and Pakistan, and there is real danger that the tiny population in India will be affected by inbreeding.
The Indus River Dolphin Survey was conducted by WWF-India, in partnership with the Department of Forests and Wildlife Preservation, Punjab, on May 3-6. “While people still talk about Gangetic river dolphins, no one talks about the Indus river dolphins, neither at the state level nor at the national level. So this survey has helped us gain perspective. It was a concerted effort to understand the status of the population in India and the findings will help us in formulating a conservation strategy to save the species,” said Suresh Babu, the director of river basins and water policy at WWF-India.
Stretch of the Beas river, in a part designated as the Beas Conservation Reserve, that was included in the survey. The dolphin survey started from 52 Headworks, Talwara and ended at Harike Nooze point; 55 kilometres of river downstream of 52 Headworks was surveyed by road due to insufficient water in the Beas while the remaining 130 kilometres was surveyed using motorboats. Direct counts were conducted using the tandem boat survey method: using two boats and a team of eight observers and two data recorders.
Population of the species in Pakistan. The Indus river dolphin (Platanista gangetica minor) is a subspecies of freshwater river dolphin and is found only in the Indus river in India and Pakistan. It is listed as an endangered animal by the IUCN.